Haaland silenced Man City critics with winner – Guardiola

MANCHESTER, England — Pep Guardiola said Erling Haaland shut his critics up by scoring the only goal in Manchester City‘s 1-0 win over Brentford.

Haaland had nine attempts without scoring in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Saturday and missed a golden chance with a second-half header. But against Brentford on Tuesday, the Norway striker, whose grandmother passed away last week, scored his 22nd goal of the season to hand City a narrow win and close the gap with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League to one point.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

“Top scorers, top strikers, score a lot of goals, don’t criticise, he will shut your mouth,” Guardiola said. “Sooner or later he is there. He was out for two months, he lost his grandmother, it is not easy for a human being. In this type of game like Brentford, you need Erling.”

City had 31 shots against Chelsea and another 25 against Brentford for a combined two goals. It looked like being a frustrating night against Thomas Frank’s side before defender Kristoffer Ajer slipped midway through the second half to allow Haaland to race onto Julián Álvarez‘s pass and score the winner.

“I think throughout the game we were brilliant,” Frank said. “Very proud and pleased with the players’ performance. They believed and it gives me a lot of belief in them going forwards.

“If he doesn’t slip I’m convinced it would not be a goal. Haaland is quick but Kristoffer is as quick. City are good so they don’t need the margins going their way.”

Meanwhile, Guardiola revealed afterwards that Kevin De Bruyne was left on the bench against Brentford after reporting discomfort in his hamstring. The midfielder missed five months after undergoing hamstring surgery and although he was named on the bench on Tuesday, the 32-year-old didn’t warm up before or during the game.

“Today we could not use Kevin because he had niggles in his hamstring and I didn’t want to take a risk,” Guardiola said. “He is OK. Just precaution because he didn’t feel comfortable and after five months off we didn’t take any risk.”

Brentford manager Thomas Frank lamented the misstep that led to Haaland’s goal.

“It was an unlucky situation, if Kristoffer doesn’t slip, I’m convinced it was never going to be a goal,” said Frank. “Haaland is quick, but Kristoffer is just as quick and it would never have been a goal. City are good enough with their quality, they don’t need the margins going their way.

“I think we needed it more than them.”