EPL

Haaland a combination of Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic, says Schmeichel

By Sports Desk October 03, 2022

Erling Haaland shares many of the same qualities as Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to Peter Schmeichel, who has described the Manchester City man as several top strikers "put into one player".

Haaland produced an incredible display as City swatted aside Manchester United for a 6-3 derby win on Sunday, scoring a treble and teeing up two goals for fellow hat-trick hero Phil Foden.

The Norwegian – who has scored 14 goals in his first eight Premier League appearances – has now scored a hat-trick in three successive home league games, becoming the first player to do so in the competition's history.

After watching Haaland tear United apart at the Etihad Stadium, Schmeichel picked out similarities between the 22-year-old and several striking legends.

"The biggest part of a good striker is patience. I played against some of the best strikers, and when they go missing is when you really have to concentrate," the former United and City goalkeeper told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The Cristiano Ronaldos, the Filippo Inzaghis of this world – they disappear then all of a sudden they get the chance.

"When you look at Haaland, you see different players. That Zlatan-like goal, and Ronaldo is in there too. You see top, top strikers in one.

"That is why he is so dangerous. He has the luxury of seeing many top strikers and they are all put into one player."

Haaland's dominant display on Sunday saw him become just the 25th player to record five goal involvements in a Premier League game – and the youngest to ever do so (22 years, 73 days).

In Haaland and team-mate Kevin De Bruyne, meanwhile, City have the highest goalscorer and top assist-maker in Europe's top five leagues this season (in all competitions).

Haaland has already found the net 17 times this season, with five of those strikes being laid on by De Bruyne, who has a total of 10 assists in 2022-23.

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    Nemanja Gudelj has defended the challenge on Neymar that may have led Brazil's star man to sustain his ankle injury in the victory over Serbia.

    Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar limped off in the 80th minute of the Selecao's 2-0 triumph on Thursday, having been subjected to nine fouls – more than any other player during the opening round of group games.

    Neymar, who suffered what has been described as a lateral ligament injury to his right ankle, shared an update on his official Instagram account on Saturday, including photos of his heavily swollen foot.

    Gudelj received a yellow card for his 49th-minute challenge – and was substituted eight minutes later – but the midfielder insists he had no intention of injuring his opponent.

    "I didn't feel like I tackled him very hard myself," Gudelj told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "I tried not to hit him hard and certainly not on his ankle. I think he got injured during another action, because he played on for a while.

    "I felt I had no choice because Neymar is deadly when he enters the penalty area. It was a necessary foul in my opinion, but one that eventually cost me a substitution."

    Serbia suffered their eighth World Cup defeat since 2006 after going down against Brazil, with only Australia losing on more occasions at the finals during this span (nine).

    Dragan Stojkovic's side can reignite their last-16 hopes with victory over Cameroon on Monday, before their Group G campaign concludes against Switzerland four days later.

    "We played too carefully in the second half [against Brazil] and showed too much respect," Gudelj added. "We collapsed, so we certainly asked for a goal against a team with as much quality up front as Brazil.

    "Whether we have seen the future world champions at work, I don't know. But they are definitely one of the favourites. They are an excellent team with technical and dynamic players. They're definitely going to fight for the gold.

    "We have faith in ourselves and hope. Of course, you can lose a game against Brazil, because they really have an excellent team.

    "We just need to win two games now. So, we're going full steam ahead, with attacking football – the way we like to play."

  • Belgium 0-2 Morocco: Saiss and Aboukhlal sink Red Devils for famous World Cup win Belgium 0-2 Morocco: Saiss and Aboukhlal sink Red Devils for famous World Cup win

    A superb second-half performance from Morocco secured a famous 2-0 World Cup victory against Belgium at Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.

    Victory for Roberto Martinez's side would have seen the 2018 semi-finalists become the second side to book their spot in the knockout stage, alongside France, but the Red Devils fell short.

    Having seen a first-half free-kick from Hakim Ziyech disallowed, the same tactic provided dividends in the second period as Abdelhamid Sabiri's dangerous ball took a slight touch off team-mate Romain Saiss to put Morocco on course for just a third win in their World Cup history.

    The win was then secured in the final minutes of the game, Zakaria Aboukhlal smashing home from close range after Ziyech's fine work to leave Group F wide open with one round of games to go.

    Belgium saw the majority of possession early on and dictated play, Michy Batshuayi forcing an early save from Munir Mohamedi, who came into the side as a very late change for Yassine Bounou.

    Having been on the back foot for the majority, Morocco thought they had scored on the brink of half-time as Ziyech's free-kick found its way into the net, but Saiss was offside and adjudged to have blocked Thibaut Courtois' line of sight.

    Lightning struck twice for Martinez's side after the break, as Sabiri whipped in a dangerous free-kick from the left to the near post which found its way past Courtois via a faint touch off Saiss, who was awarded the goal, with no offside flag to save Belgium this time.

    Any hope of a late fightback from Belgium was wiped away in added time, Ziyech winning the ball off a poor touch from Axel Witsel and teeing up Aboukhlal to smash home.

     

    What does it mean? Belgium's fine run ends

    Winning their past eight group-stage matches at the World Cup, victory would have seen Belgium set an outright record in that regard, while they had not lost at this stage of the tournament since 1994.

    Morocco, with just two wins from 17 previous fixtures at the tournament (D6, L9), were largely unfancied before a ball was kicked in a group that contained two semi-finalists from Russia 2018, but they have avoided defeat against both.

    A famous triumph inflicted Belgium's first ever defeat to an African nation at the World Cup, and Morocco now just need a point against Canada to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1986.

    Moroccan magic

    Heading into the game, Morocco had failed to score in 53 per cent of their World Cup matches (9/17), which stood as the joint-highest percentage of any nation to have played at least 10 matches in the tournament.

    While chances from open play were limited, Morocco's effectiveness from set-pieces proved crucial, with the same move against Belgium working twice – though the first was ruled out.

    Disappointing De Bruyne

    Usually one to pull the strings in midfield, Morocco's fine organisation left Kevin De Bruyne's influence on the match being limited, the Manchester City man creating just one chance for his team during the game.

    De Bruyne ended up being the man at the end of attacking sequences for Martinez's side, with more shots (three) than any of his team-mates but failing to hit the target with any, while also losing possession on a game-high 27 occasions.

    Key Opta facts

    - Belgium have lost seven of their past 19 matches in all competitions (W9 D3), as many defeats as they had suffered across their previous 74 games combined (W57 D10).
    - Morocco's victory over Belgium was their first win in five games at the World Cup (D2 L2). Meanwhile, it was the first time that they had recorded consecutive clean sheets at the World Cup since 1986.
    - Belgium are just the third side to lose their 50th game at the World Cup, after England in 2002 (v Brazil) and Spain in 2010 (v Switzerland), though the latter went on to win the tournament that year.
    - The Red Devils have only scored fewer goals after two games at a World Cup once before (none in 1930) – they had scored eight goals across their first two games in 2018.

    What's next?

    Morocco tackle Canada in their final group match on Thursday, knowing a draw will be enough to secure a spot in the knockout stage, while Belgium lock horns with Croatia on the same day.

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    That came after the 37-year-old held an explosive interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, during which he openly criticised the club, its board and manager Erik ten Hag.

    United said they "initiated appropriate steps" in the wake of the interview's full release, ultimately resulting in his second spell at the club coming to an end.

    Ronaldo had struggled for form this season and found himself behind Rashford and Anthony Martial in the pecking order when they were all fit.

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    Ronaldo is yet to sign with another club, but according to reports there are no restrictions on where he can move.

    Chelsea and Newcastle United have been mentioned as potential destinations for the Portugal great, while Flamengo and Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr are also rumoured to be keen.

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