Haaland goal lifts Man City within a point of Liverpool

PAUL ELLIS/ AFP

Erling Haaland erased any questions about his scoring touch on Tuesday, netting Manchester City's only goal in a 1-0 victory over Brentford that lifted them into second place in the Premier League table, just one point behind leaders Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola's team, unbeaten in their last 10 league matches and finally even in games played with title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal, have 56 points, one ahead of Arsenal in a title race that looks destined to go down to the wire. Brentford are five points above the relegation zone in 14th.

Haaland, who three days earlier pushed a camera in frustration after failing to score with nine shots in a 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 sprinted onto a beautiful through ball from Julian Alvarez then stroked it past a slipping Kristoffer Ajer before beating keeper Mark Flekken. Haaland has now scored against every Premier League club he has faced. 

Guardiola issued a warning to Haaland's critics and said the Norwegian had come through a difficult period in his personal life.

"Top strikers score a lot of goals, don’t criticise, he will shut your mouth. Sooner or later he is there," Guardiola told reporters.

"He was out for two months (with a foot injury), he lost his grandmother, it is not easy for a human being.

"We spoke about the moment and I realised this later, but he didn’t say anything about the passing away of his grandmother. In this type of games like Brentford, you need Erling," added Guardiola, who said he left playmaker Kevin De Bruyne on the bench because of "niggles in his hamstring".

Haaland, who had scored just two goals in his previous seven games, had another effort ruled out late in the game because Kyle Walker was offside in the buildup.

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