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Erling Haaland haunts former club as Manchester City overcome Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund knew what to expect from Erling Haaland, he had plundered 86 goals in 89 appearances for them over a two and a half year period after all. It made no difference whatsoever. The Manchester City striker took his goal tally for his new club to a remarkable 13 in nine outings to condemn his old club to a cruel Champions League defeat after they had led through Jude Bellingham’s second-half header.

Haaland executed a superb acrobatic volley to convert an equally impressive cross from João Cancelo as Pep Guardiola’s side recovered from a passive first half and from falling behind to maintain their 100% start to the campaign. It followed an immaculately observed minute’s silence for Queen Elizabeth II.

Dortmund proved a more awkward assignment for the Premier League champions than last week’s 4-0 stroll in Sevilla, plus a test of patience for Haaland and those anticipating a continuation of the goal-machine’s prolific start in City colours. The centre forward was one of three former Dortmund players in City’s starting line-up alongside the captain Ilkay Gündogan and Manuel Akanji, making his first start since his recent £16.7m move. A fourth, Sergio Gómez, was on the bench.

Haaland regained possession several times, had a minor off-the-ball tussle with the former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can, and helped himself to a drink from the visiting goalkeeper Alexander Meyer’s water bottle while awaiting a corner in the first half. But he did not get one sight of the Dortmund goal during a dull opening period. The striker was not alone in that regard.

Edin Terzic’s side stifled City comfortably in the first half, their midfield three helping to form a compact unit that was content to let Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish receive the ball out wide while they shut down gaps in the centre. When danger did arise, the experienced centre-half duo of Mats Hummels and Niklas Süle were alert to it. Süle prevented Haaland capitalising on his first hint of a chance when heading away a Mahrez cross just as the former Dortmund forward rose to connect. It was not until the 41st minute that Kevin de Bruyne found an opportunity to release Haaland behind the German defence but that opening was snuffed out by Hummels’ interception.

Jude Bellingham heads past Ederson to give Borussia Dortmund the lead.
Jude Bellingham heads past Ederson to give Borussia Dortmund the lead. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

City created little before the interval with Guardiola a picture of frustration at his players’ frequent failure to prevent Dortmund playing out from the back. Grealish was another source of irritation. The £100m man was found in space on the left regularly but rarely got the better of Thomas Meunier at right back or beat the visiting defence with a telling cross.

It was Dortmund who created the first real chance of note when Jude Bellingham spun away from Gündogan and Rodri in midfield before sending Raphaël Guerreiro rampaging down the left. The full back flicked the ball outside to Salih Ozcan, who stepped inside Akanji but curled a shot straight into the arms of Ederson.

The visitors placed City under sustained pressure immediately after the restart by attacking with more intensity, speed and in greater numbers. Guardiola summoned his assistants for an emergency meeting in the technical area but, by the time their changes were introduced, Dortmund had inflicted damage.

Marco Reus almost delivered the breakthrough after the impressive Bellingham released Ozcan down the left with an incisive first time ball. Ozcan played the Dortmund veteran in behind the City defence and Ederson’s goal opened up when he checked back inside Akanji’s despairing lunge. Reus lifted his shot over the City keeper but also wide of the far post. Bellingham softened the blow of the miss moments later.

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The City crowd rose to applaud the imminent triple introduction of Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Julián Álvarez. But the ball was in the back of City’s net before the players they replaced had sat down. Ozcan beat Haaland to a corner from Giovanni Reyna, son of the former City captain Claudio, and flicked on to Reus lurking unmarked on the far side of the penalty area. The Dortmund captain placed a cross back in to the six-yard area where Bellingham, reacting far quicker than Haaland or Akanji, darted between his two former teammates to beat Ederson with a glancing header from close range.

Guardiola’s substitutions improved City immeasurably in the final third yet Haaland would endure more frustration before haunting his former club. The striker was given a first real sight of goal when De Bruyne’s chip played through down the right channel but, from a tight angle, he shot wide. A Foden cross then appeared destined for the sliding Haaland only for Hummels to intervene yet again with a challenge that Dortmund celebrated like a winning goal. Too soon.

With 10 minutes remaining an unlikely saviour emerged in the form of Stones. The defender, stationed at right back in the absence of Kyle Walker, collected a pass from De Bruyne and opted to try his luck from 20 yards out. Stones’ drive swerved over the head of Dortmund substitute Nico Schlotterbeck and into the near top corner of Meyer’s goal. The keeper could have done better than wave at the shot as it flew by although the pace and dip were mitigating factors. Then came the moment Haaland and City had longed for, and Dortmund had feared. He did not disappoint.

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