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UCL: Bellingham 'exceptional' but Haaland wins it for City

Matt Pearson Etihad Stadium, Manchester
September 15, 2022

Jude Bellingham delivered another distinguished display for Borussia Dortmund, scoring the goal that had them on the path to a famous win. But as usual Erling Haaland had other ideas, scoring a late winner in Manchester.

Jude Bellingham celebrates his goal for Borussia Dortmund against Manchester City
No English teenager has scored more Champions League goals than Jude Bellingham, who has four.Image: Tim Goode/IMAGO

Manchester City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
(Stones 80', Haaland 84' - Bellingham 56')
Etihad Stadium

The noisy yellow and black masses hemmed in by security guards behind Ederson’s goal had read this script before. A late Erling Haaland goal rescued three points, glossing over a lackluster performance. On to the next one. Only this time, they hoped for the alternative ending.

For a long time, in a painfully slow-burning clash in Manchester, it looked like they might have it, after Jude Bellingham headed them into a second half lead. But late goals from John Stones and, inevitably, Haaland meant a resilient Dortmund display went unrewarded.

The opener wasn’t so much against the run of play but against the whole ethos of both sides up to that point. Passes were knocked around midfield, the odd shot was blocked and the home crowd barely made a sound, preferring instead to let the roll call of frictionless wins hang in the Manchester sky as a reminder of how they do things there.

But Bellingham wanted to write his own lines. The English midfielder grafted and schemed relentlessly throughout; spoiling, harrying and recycling possession before seizing the moment and nodding home Marco Reus’s cross/shot in the 56th minute. 

"Jude, like all the other players, gave a great performance in offensive and defensive terms,” Dortmund head coach Edin Terzic told DW at his post match press conference. “He blocked so any passes and crosses and also got forward… once again, he was very good against Manchester City."

As Terzic was alluding to, it’s not the first time he’s done it in his homeland, or against City, having scored the opener in the quarter final second leg in 2021, only for City to turn it round in the second half.

'An exceptional player'

"I was impressed when he was 17," City coach Pep Guardiola told DW in the post-game press conference. “He’s able to defend (Gundo or Kevin in the pockets) and also have the sense for the second positions for the goal. He’s an exceptional player, I think everybody knows it."

The 19-year-old has played close to 100 games for Dortmund in probably the most demanding position on the pitch. He’s been through four head coaches, a fair few crises and even more midfield partners, with only occasional dips in form.

Such consistency, allied with his obvious talent, make him a leader in a BVB side whose only reliable quality has been its inconsistency. After allowing himself a sprint of celebration, Bellingham cooled himself off; ordering senior teammates like Emre Can around, chasing down City goalkeeper Ederson and powering through a calf problem. 

One of those hooked by a visibly irritated Guardiola was İlkay Gündoğan. The former Dortmund man had played for Dortmund against City back in 2012 en route to their final loss to Bayern Munich and is good enough to be captain of this excellent City side. But the energy, intensity and class of Bellingham had seen him fade from the game – but Haaland refused to do the same.

Manchester City striker Erling Haaland scores the winning goal against Borussia Dortmund
At 22, Erling Haaland is the youngest player to score for and against the same side in the in Champions League.Image: Martin Rickett/IMAGO

Haaland has final say

"I knew it [would be Haaland] to be honest," Bellingham told DAZN after the game. "Not many people know how to stop him and we did a really good job until 84 minutes tonight, and he did what he does."

After his 13th goal in 9 games for his new club, the 22-year-old stayed on the pitch long after his City teammates, embracing those he’d left behind in yellow and black. "They didn’t stop me… I scored," Haaland told British broadcaster BT Sport after the game. “They played well. They were good. I was quite sure I was going to be followed the whole game because Edin [Terzic] knows me very well. Dortmund were really good today [but] three points is what matters."

Therein lies the point for players of the caliber of Bellingham. For all their improvement from the drubbing from RB Leipzig on Saturday, it’s now three losses from the last six games for Terzic’s side. 

City, in stark contrast, have yet to lose a game this season and Haaland said the Premier League side “showed who they are” after going a goal down. Bellingham, at some point soon, will surely conclude that it’s the same for Dortmund. But in a much less positive light.

Edited by Michael Da Silva