fbpx Skip to main content

Manchester City assistant Juanma Lillo says Erling Haaland’s mentality helps set him apart from most other goalscorers.

Haaland missed a first-half penalty and several other chances in Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League win at Sheffield United before finally breaking the hosts’ stubborn resistance at Bramall Lane.

The Norway striker headed City into a second-half lead and after substitute Jayden Bogle fired a late Blades equaliser, Rodri smashed home City’s winner to send them top of the table with three straight wins.

Erling Haaland's first-half penalty at Bramall Lane struck a post
Erling Haaland’s first-half penalty at Bramall Lane struck a post (Mike Egerton/PA)

Lillo, who took on the head coach’s role as Pep Guardiola recovers from back surgery, said: “Today would have been difficult for any striker, how it played out in the first half.

“Of course there was the situation with the penalty, which is frustrating for anyone, but that could happen to any striker, not just Erling.

“What it does show is that, and not just because he scored, because he came close on a couple of other occasions as well, came really close with (another) header, that it really shows his mental fortitude to keep going and keep going.

“That’s something that’s really difficult to find and he showed it throughout.

“He’s a very young lad and his mindset is so good that, OK he’s missed a penalty, but he’s come back now and he wants to keep going and keep trying to score these goals.”

The Blades’ central back three of captain John Egan, Jack Robinson and Anel Ahmedhodzic were key to their side’s disciplined rearguard action, which stifled Haaland for large parts of the game.

Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom, who could not hide his disappointment at failing to hold on for a point, said: “I’m not going to tell you the plan because we may do it again next time.

“The central defenders enjoyed that challenge. Haaland enjoyed that challenge and got really wound up.

“He was really pleased with his goal obviously. He’s a big, big threat.”

The Blades introduced latest signing Cameron Archer to the Bramall Lane faithful before kick-off and Heckingbottom expects more transfer activity between now and midnight on Friday when the window closes.

“We’ve lost players but that’s changed our resources, so we’re doing as much as we possibly can to come out of the window in the best possible shape,” he added.

“I’ve been pleased with the signings and pleased with them as characters, as people and buying into what we’re about.

“You can see in the performance. The reason I’m so disappointed about not having a point is for the players and the fans.

“You could see the reaction, everyone’s together on it, everyone knows what we’re trying to do.

“That’s the reason I’m really upset about the point. How crucial it will be at the end of the season, who knows?”