Erling Haaland says he’s rarely been as nervous as when he stepped up to take a last-minute penalty in Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat of Fulham.
City battled hard with 10 men for over an hour at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and just as it looked like they would have to settle for a point Haaland once again made himself the man of the moment.
Julian Alvarez’s first-half opener was cancelled out by an Andreas Pereira penalty, awarded for a last-man foul that earned Joao Cancelo a red card. Pep Guardiola’s side plugged away throughout the second half and increased the pressure when Haaland made his return from injury with 25 minutes left to play.
In the fifth minute of injury-time City’s persistence paid off when Kevin De Bruyne was fouled just inside the box. Haaland stepped up and just about squeezed his spot-kick under the arm of Bernd Leno, before wheeling away in celebration.
Haaland has now scored three penalties for City, although the other two were much more emphatic. Speaking after the match, the 22-year-old admitted that he was extremely nervous when he stepped up to the spot, explaining his weak effort.
“Nervous. One of the most nervous moments of my life,” Haaland said when asked how he felt before the penalty. “Why do you think? Of course, because it’s a penalty in the last minute, of course, I’m nervous like anybody else would be. It was an amazing feeling.”
It was put to Haaland that he’s a player that seems to thrive under pressure, something he agreed with.
“I love it [pressure]. I’ve been injured for one week now, it’s amazing to get the win and three important points. It’s tough not to play, I want to play every game. In the end we need three points and that’s exactly what we got. I’m so tired and so happy, you have no idea.”
10 minutes after coming off the bench Haaland thought he had restored City’s advantage when he headed home De Bruyne’s cross. However, after a VAR review the goal was chalked off for offside, and Haaland accepted it was the correct decision.
“Of course it was hard, but that’s how it is. It was offside, VAR, it should be like this, it’s the right decision, nothing more than that.”