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01st Jan 2023

‘His head was gone’ – Jordan Pickford livid after reckless Erling Haaland tackle

Patrick McCarry

There was plenty of spice in this New Years’ Eve clash at Etihad Stadium

Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne were two of five Manchester City and Everton players booked in a feisty first half, at Eastlands. On another day, or with another referee, both men could easily have been sent off in their 1-1 draw with Frank Lampard’s side.

City were looking to keep up the heat on league leaders Arsenal with a win over the Toffees, but had an early scare when Haaland was caught in a bad tackle that saw him clutching his ankle.

The Norwegian was able to play on, and he scored his 21st Premier League goal of the season, in just his 15th outing, to put the hosts 1-0 up.

Everton were showing some fight, though, and were not standing on ceremony for the league champions. They were tearing into challenges and a few City players responded.

Just after the 30-minute mark, Kevin de Bruyne chopped down Amadou Onana and received a swift yellow card. The game carried on without a meaningful VAR check but, over on Premier Sports at half-time, former Ireland captain Kenny Cunningham felt the Belgian should have been sent off.

“His reputation has helped him… this is reckless. He leads with his studs… that’s a potential leg-breaker.”

Former Manchester City defender Richard Dunne agreed that it was a poor challenge but said it was a “borderline” tackle, rather than a certain red card.

Erling Haaland

“His head is gone”

Erling Haaland was getting jostled and tugged by the Everton defenders and his frustration was apparent when he celebrated getting a free-kick like he had scored a goal. He raised his arms as he jogged into the Everton box, then whipped his arms around to fire up the crowd.

From the resulting free, John Stones clanged a diving header off the post and the ball rebounded out to the touchline. Haaland went in pursuit of Vitalii Mykolenko and needlessly dived in, clipping the defender’s foot as he cleared the ball. You can see that Haaland tackle here.

That challenge earned Haaland a yellow card but Jordan Pickford and James Tarkowski both wanted more. “His head was gone,” said Cunningham as a replay of that Haaland foul played out.

The Everton pair were livid and wanted a stronger sanction for the City striker. Tarkowski was deemed to have gone too far with his protests and was also booked.

Both Cunningham and Dunne agreed, on this occasion that the Haaland tackle fell into the “borderline” category and that no great injustice had been done in just cautioning him.

“There have been a few tackles, from both sides,” said Dunne, “that have been very close to the mark.”

Everton equalised through a cracking Demarai Gray effort, midway through the second half, and Haaland was involved in another flashpoint with Tarkowski. While the referee awarded a free to City, when Haaland was felled, Tarkowski wanted VAR to check for a potential elbow from the forward.

The draw means Arsenal could go seven points clear with a win over Brighton.

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