Teenage record-breaker Erling Braut Haaland warned Borussia Dortmund still have it all to do to reach the Champions League quarter-finals even after his two goals sank Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain.
Haaland netted either side of a Neymar equaliser on Tuesday as the Brazilian superstar scored on his return from injury as the French champions crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Dortmund in the last 16, first leg, tie.
“We want to go through, it’s going to be a hard game,” Haaland said of the return leg in Paris on March 11, “but we are a good team.
“The result is quite a dangerous one, as Paris has a very strong team and can still go through in the return leg.”
Haaland’s team-mate Emre Can, who alongside Axel Witsel worked tirelessly in Dortmund’s midfield to contain Neymar and France striker Kylian Mbappe, said the home side’s defence had been key.
“It was a big statement from the team how we defended today. We know it’s not over — it’s just half-time,” said Can, whose permanent transfer from Juventus was confirmed Tuesday.
However, the night belonged Haaland who has 11 goals in his first seven games for Dortmund and warned there is more to come.
“I feel like I still can do a lot better,” said Haaland.
“I have to work hard to improve to play better at this level.”
Having also scored eight goals for Salzburg in the group stages before his 20 million-euro ($22 million) transfer to Dortmund, Haaland made Champions League history on Tuesday.
His tally of 10 goals in his first seven Champions League matches is now a new record in the competition and makes him the joint top-scorer alongside Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.
The teenage goal-machine has so far scored 39 times in 29 games this season for Salzburg and Dortmund.
The 19-year-old had already sent records tumbling since arriving in Dortmund last month when he became the first player to score a hat-trick off the bench on his Bundesliga debut.
His incredible strike for his second goal on Tuesday overshadowed Neymar’s return from a rib injury with PSG desperate to break their last 16 jinx having exited at this stage in the competition in each of the last three seasons.
– ‘Important Neymar goal’ –
Paris defender Marquinhos said Neymar’s away goal could prove crucial in the home leg.
“We weren’t intense enough with or without the ball and did a lot of things badly, however the goal we got is important for the second leg,” he said.
The presence of the world’s most expensive player was a major boost for his team, after Neymar missed last season’s surprise last-16 loss to Manchester United with a foot injury.
He also sat out the second leg of their defeat by Real Madrid at the same stage in 2018.
PSG’s German coach Thomas Tuchel admitted Neymar’s lack of match fitness had been a factor in the away defeat, but said his team still has time to find their form.
“Neymar hadn’t played for a fortnight, but he is very important for Kylian (Mbappe), there is harmony between them and if Neymar lacks rhythm, it’s immediately noticeable,” said Tuchel.
“We didn’t have enough possession, we made too many easy mistakes, we weren’t smart enough and we lost the ball too early.
“It’s difficult, but it’s 2-1 and we still have a few games left to get back into the rhythm.”
His counterpart Lucien Favre echoed Haaland’s insistence that the result gives Dortmund only a slender advantage with PSG’s passionate home fans set to get behind their team in the return leg.
“Of course it’s a dangerous result, but we played well in both defence and attack,” said Dortmund’s Swiss coach.
“However, as things stand it’s 2-1 to us.”