Erling Haaland hit a brace as Manchester City made it three wins from three in Group G of the Champions League with a 3-1 victory over BSC Young Boys at the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern.

Manuel Akanji, playing in his homeland, opened the scoring for Pep Guardiola’s European champions shortly after half-time but we were pegged back within five minutes via a scooped Meschack Elia finish.

However, Haaland’s penalty in the 65th minute put a much-changed City back in front before the Norwegian added a third in the closing stages to ensure the three points.

Witness the return fixture at the Etihad Stadium

That leaves us with nine points from three matches, knowing a win in the return clash at the Etihad Stadium in a fortnight will see us safely through to the knockout stages for the eleventh consecutive season.

The result also extends City’s unbeaten run in the Champions League to 16 matches, matching Guardiola’s longest chain of matches in the competition without defeat.

What happened

We trained at the Wankdorf Stadium on Tuesday in an attempt to get to grips with the artificial surface.

The composed early passing of a City side who made seven changes from the weekend’s win over Brighton suggested it was a fruitful session.

Rodrigo felt he could have opened the scoring when he met City’s first corner with a powerful header that whistled beyond Anthony Racioppi’s post.

Nunes, the taker of that corner, was the next to believe he could have found the net when a low Jack Grealish cross came his way. The Portuguese midfielder was unmarked around 12 yards out but couldn’t keep his left-footed effort below the bar.

We continued to dominate and with more and more possession came more freedom for our defenders, who took every opportunity to drive into space created by the movement of Rodrigo, Nunes, Mateo Kovacic and Rico Lewis in front of them.

Manuel Akanji did just that midway through the first half and slid a pass through to Erling Haaland. The Norwegian held off his marker but couldn’t find the net with his right foot.

Another clearcut chance followed moments later when Grealish jumped onto a loose ball and fizzed a pass into Jeremy Doku. The No.11 cut inside but slipped just as he went to strike, meaning his effort clipped his standing leg and made the save easier.

Young Boys had hit the night’s first shot on goal inside the opening minute but had to wait until the 29th minute before their second came.

Striker Cedric Itten burst over the halfway line and cut inside, but his tame left-footed effort was simple for Ederson to collect.

Grealish looked our most threatening player throughout the first half and caused chaos at the back on the half hour when his latest shot was spilled by goalkeeper Racioppi. Nunes followed it in and sent the ball towards the line, only for it to be cleared with mere inches to spare.

Last ditch defending was required from left-back Nathan Ake in the 37th minute when a sudden Young Boys break resulted in Sandro Lauper finding space in our box. The midfielder looked to be through for a one-v-one but he afforded Ake just enough time to poke it away for a corner.

The European champions worked Racioppi twice more before the break. Firstly, Doku cut inside from the left and unleashed an effort that was parried away before Rodrigo met a low corner with a cushioned shot that the Swiss goalkeeper had to turn away with his legs.

The pattern of play remained the same immediately after half-time, with City peppering the Young Boys goal from the off.

The opener took just over two minutes following the restart when Swiss international Akanji was quickest to respond after Racioppi brilliantly tipped a Dias header on to the bar.

However, the lead lasted less than five minutes with Meschack Elia scooping the ball over Ederson after being set in behind City’s defence.

That next wave of attacks brought City’s penalty in the 65th minute when Rodrigo reacted to a blocked Grealish effort slightly quicker than Young Boys captain Mohamed Ali Camara.

Haaland stepped up to spot and duly hammered home for his first Champions League goal of the season.

The Norwegian thought he had his second shortly afterwards when sliding in to meet Doku’s low cross but he couldn’t turn the ball inside the far post.

Julian Alvarez was introduced in the 72nd minute and thought he had added City’s third just two minutes later but his cool finish was scrubbed off following a VAR check for a handball against Grealish.

Bernardo Silva came close inside the last ten minutes, curling a shot just wide of the far post from his inside right position.

However, it was that man Haaland again who put the result beyond doubt with a right-footed curling strike into the top corner in the 86th minute.


CITY XI: Ederson, Lewis, Akanji, Dias (C), Ake, Rodrigo (Phillips 90), Kovacic, Nunes (Bernardo 72), Grealish, Doku (Alvarez 72), Haaland (Gomez 90)

Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Walker, Stones, Gvardiol, Foden, Bobb, Hamilton

YOUNG BOYS XI: Racioppi, Garcia (Persson 80), Benito, Camara (C), Blum (Janko 80), Lauper (Males 80), Niasse, Elia, Ugrinic, Monteiro (Ganvoula 72), Itten (Nsame 72)

Subs: Von Ballmoos, Marzino, Amenda, Lakomy, Colley, Chaiwa, Lustenberger

Pep Guardiola reaction

“The result is good. Nine out of nine.

“Our positional game was exceptional. We talk about short passes on artificial pitches and long passes is more difficult. We had chances but in general it was a really good game.

“We could have scored more goals but it’s important to create the chances.”

Rico Lewis reaction

“It’s a difficult game, a different challenge for us, the surface and the weather, the environment we’re in that they’re used to.

“But as you saw, the team is so good at adapting. We played so good in the first half, it was more back and forth in the second half but we got the job done.

“Today, I was a bit frustrated with the goal against us, I think I could have done better, after five minutes I let that go, and tried to create chances for us. I got back into the game. I’m buzzing.”

Man of the match

Erling Haaland You can’t keep him down for long. Haaland has played a crucial role in our first two Group G matches without scoring, and it looked as if he may have to go without again tonight for the first hour.

However, with the award of the penalty came his opportunity. He took it in the manner you’d expect and had the confidence and presence of mind to add a second with a brutal right-footed finish into the top corner as the final whistle neared.

Away from his efforts in front of goal, Haaland’s hold up play continues to provide a brilliant platform for City to progress up the pitch. The Norwegian’s mere presence is enough to provide central defenders with enough to do so that they can’t step out and strangle advancing midfielders for space.

His impact off the ball in addition to his obvious striking talents should never be ignored.

Nunes in the 10

Matheus Nunes was the most advanced of our three midfielders, often bursting beyond Erling Haaland while the Norwegian occupied the central defenders.

It’s a role we saw Kevin De Bruyne fulfil often last season while Julian Alvarez has filled that space for much of this campaign.

The Portuguese midfielder was very neat on the ball and made a number of good runs that opened up the pitch for his team-mates as much as him.

On another night, he also could have found himself on the scoresheet.

Having played in several different midfield roles since arriving at City, Nunes’ versatility is clearly a key part of what he brings to this high-quality squad.

What it means

City have nine points from a possible nine after three matches in Group G of this season’s Champions League.

That leaves us top of the group knowing that a victory in the return fixture against tonight’s opponents will see us safely into the knockouts for the eleventh successive season.

What’s next

The 191st Manchester derby. We will make the short trip across the city to the home of our historic rivals for a 15:30 kick-off on Sunday 29 October.

We go into the match second in the Premier League with 21 points from nine games, while Manchester United have 15 points and sit in eighth.

Our next Champions League appointment is also against Young Boys, with the Swiss champions visiting the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday 7 November.

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