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soccer

Haaland’s Champions League half-time substitution not due to injury

Erling Haaland was replaced at half-time in Manchester City’s Champions League game against FC Copenhagen but didn’t suffer an injury

Roddy Cons
Update:
Erling Haaland was replaced at half-time in Manchester City’s Champions League game against FC Copenhagen but didn’t suffer an injury
LINDSEY PARNABYAFP

There were some familiar sights at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night as Manchester City thrashed FC Copenhagen 5-0 to continue their perfect start to the 2022-23 Champions League.

That fact that Erling Haaland scored twice in the first half came as a surprise to absolutely nobody and the Norwegian would have secured a fourth home hat-trick already this season had Copenhagen defender Davit Knocholava not turned the ball into his own net with Haaland loitering just behind him.

Manchester City striker Erling Haaland substituted at half-time against FC Copenhagen

What did come as a surprise, however, was that Haaland was denied the chance to claim another treble in the second half, with City boss Pep Guardiola opting to replace his star forward with youngster Cole Palmer at half-time, with the Citizens already 3-0 up and cruising. Even more frustratingly for Haaland, the Premier League champions were awarded a penalty in the second half, which he surely would have taken (and no doubt scored).

No injury to Erling Haaland

Norwegian football journalist Arilas Ould-Saada calmed speculation after the game that the record-breaking striker had suffered an injury, reporting that the decision to substitute him was purely “tactical”.

Guardiola himself then also cleared matters up:

He has played a lot of minutes. Cole Palmer is a top-class player who I am looking forward to seeing play,” said Guardiola.

Erling scored goals and after that it is better to rest. I want to be honest, Erling wants the same as all of us, to win the game.”

Haaland won’t feature at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

The 2022-23 season promises to be a long old season, with games coming thick and fast due to the 2022 World Cup taking place in November and December. The good news for City, if not for Haaland, is that Norway won’t feature in Qatar, which means the striker should be much less likely to burn out than players who will feature in the tournament.

Nevertheless, this is not the first time Guardiola has given Haaland a breather. The striker has only completed 90 minutes in four of City’s first eight Premier League games and now one of their three Champions League fixtures.

In total, the Norwegian has played 869 minutes of football out of a possible 990 in all competitions, missing 121 minutes. Just think how many more goals he could’ve scored in that time.

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