City boss Pep Guardiola revealed how he wouldn’t have wanted the chance that Erling Haaland despatched to secure a priceless 1-0 Premier League win over Brentford to have fallen to anyone else.

For more than 70 minutes at the Etihad, Thomas Frank’s visitors had proved obstinate and formidable opponents, denying City space and time and also proving a threat on the counter.

But just as it appeared the champions could be heading for a second successive home draw, as he has done so often since joining City 20 months ago, Haaland proved the difference.

Capitalising on a 71st minute slip by Brentford’s Kristoffer Ajer, Haaland raced through on goal before coolly despatching a fine finish past Bees keeper Mark Flekken to clinch a precious three-point haul.

The result moved City up above Arsenal into second place in the table and just a point behind leaders Liverpool and also served as the perfect riposte to Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea where Haaland had endured a frustrating afternoon in front of goal.


And having seen the Norwegian fire home his 17th Premier League goal of the season, Guardiola again highlighted the unique quality of his striking talisman who, away from football, had also had to deal with the loss of his grandmother. 

“No, definitely. If I had to choose one [striker for that moment] I prefer to choose this one,” Pep declared.

“When I was young, I was told about top strikers, don’t criticise them because he will shut your mouth, that’s for sure.

KEY MOMENT: Erling Haaland drills home the all-important match winner
KEY MOMENT: Erling Haaland drills home the all-important match winner

“Sooner or later always they are there.

“He was out for two months [injured].

“He had an incredibly tough week last week, he lost his grandmother and it’s not easy for a human being.

“But he scored when he’s not in his best shape at the moment. He’s so tall, out for two months.

“We spoke about the moment but he didn’t say anything about the passing of his grandmother.

“We talked a little about how he feels and of course [it was tough] for his father. In these types of games, especially against Brentford you need Erling.

“In these type of games like Brentford it’s really difficult for us because you can break in transition like Liverpool did in the last game, but against us there is no spaces.

“Last season we lost six points against them, fortunately [this season] we can win them both.”

The boss also revealed that Kevin De Bruyne remained an unused substitute after reporting a slight niggle in his hamstring.

As a result, Pep said the decision was made not to take any risks with the midfielder’s fitness, given the Belgian had been sidelined for five months after sustaining a serious hamstring injury in the opening game of the season at Burnley.

“Today we can’t use Kevin because he has a niggle in his hamstring and we didn’t want to take any risks,” Guardiola revealed.

“He’s OK. It’s more prevention than anything.

“The doctor said it’s a little uncomfortable so after five months out so we don’t want to take any risk.”