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Erling Haaland erased any doubts about his scoring touch on Tuesday, scoring Manchester City’s only goal in a 1-0 win over Brentford that took them to second place in the Premier League table, just one point behind leaders Liverpool.
Pep Guardiola’s side, unbeaten in their last 10 league games and finally level in games played against title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal, have 56 points, one ahead of Arsenal. Brentford are five points above the relegation zone in 14th place.
Haaland, who three days earlier pushed a camera in frustration after missing a career-worst nine shots in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, was back in form, increasing his league tally to 17 goals.
The Norwegian broke the deadlock in the 71st minute when he ran onto a beautiful pass from Julián Álvarez and then beat a slipping Kristoffer Ajer before beating goalkeeper Mark Flekken.
Mail Sport’s Adam Shergold highlights some of the things you may have missed.
Erling Haaland scored the winning goal as Manchester City beat Brentford to close the gap on Liverpool.
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Brazilian winger ready to move
Milti-club ownership is here to stay and, although yet to be confirmed, it looks like Brazilian winger Savio will join Man City in the summer.
He has seven goals and seven assists with high-flying Girona this season.
The 19-year-old is currently on loan at Girona from Troyes, who are part of the City Football Group (CFG).
In 2020, the French team became CFG’s 10th club and earlier this week City announced a “football collaboration agreement” with Turkish team Istanbul Basaksehir.
Watch the gap
Just 15 days separated these two teams facing each other in the league after their December clash was rescheduled due to the FIFA Club World Cup.
But that gap was nothing in the three days that separated Arsenal and Bolton playing twice in the league in four days in 2010, after heavy snow canceled the opening match. That remains the shortest amount of time among Premier League teams playing each other twice.
Last season, Leeds and Man Utd played twice in the space of four days after the Queen’s funeral forced the original match to be postponed.
Clearance of the year?
Oscar Bobb made his first Premier League start for Man City and was impressive on the left flank before being replaced by Jeremy Doku on the hour mark.
The 20-year-old was denied what would have been a magnificent first goal thanks to a stunning goal-line clearance from Ben Mee.
Manchester City’s Oscar Bobb was denied what would have been a superb opening goal from Ben Mee.
Bobb balletically set up Brentford captain Christian Norgaard with an exquisite first touch before Mee achieved possibly the clearance of the year by throwing his body over the line.
De Bruyne was popular
Almost a third of Fantasy Premier League managers were disappointed by the news that Kevin De Bruyne would start on the bench.
With four Premier League assists since returning to action last month after a hamstring injury, De Bruyne was a popular choice, especially as City had an extra game during this game week.
In a new documentary called ‘The Return of the King’, the Belgian revealed after the operation that his hamstring was like a wet paper towel.
“Basically, I’m a 32-year-old footballer who’s played 15 years, made almost 700 appearances, had a couple of hamstring injuries and the surgeon told me my hamstrings were like a wet paper towel. The tendon ruptured, they needed “clean it and it was the best decision.”
Haaland completes the set
With his goal, Erling Haaland has completed the Premier League team, scoring against all 21 teams he has faced in the league since arriving in the summer of 2022.
Despite the defeat, Brentford remain the last team to win at the Etihad. They beat City in November 2022.
In fact, it remains City’s only defeat in their last 38 top-flight home games (31 wins, 6 draws).
Many famous faces
There were plenty of familiar faces here with Luton boss Rob Edwards in the directors’ box. His team plays at Liverpool on Wednesday and will face City in the FA Cup next week.
David Moyes was also here, with West Ham playing Brentford on Monday. Dutch manager Ronald Koeman was also present to keep an eye on Nathan Ake, but he would surely have been impressed by another Brentford compatriot, goalkeeper Mark Flekken, who made five saves in the first half.
Interestingly, Koeman made the trip to Saudi Arabia last week to watch Georginio Wijnaldum, who plays for Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq.
City also kept Lancashire and England’s Phil Salt busy with a series of media commitments for The Tunnel Club. Lancashire head to Spain for warm weather training today and Salt told Mail Sport of his desire to claim a place in England’s red ball this summer after an impressive white ball winter, where he scored two T20 centuries against the West Indies.
Neal Maupay received a friendly greeting from Pep Guardiola but the City fans were not so kind
The Boo Boys target Maupay
When these two sides met a fortnight ago it ended in a row between Kyle Walker and Neal Maupay, with Maupay this week denying he had incited the argument by mentioning Walker’s private life.
“I’m not going to say it, but if you read my lips correctly and found out, everyone would laugh,” Maupay said, when asked by The Times what he had said.
Maupay started on the bench on Tuesday night, but when Thomas Frank introduced him in the 68th minute he was predictably met with a chorus of boos from the City fans.