Ahead of kick-off, all eyes were on Norwegian star Erling Haaland as he lined up against the team he had only left a few months ago.
And the Manchester City striker did not disappoint, scoring an acrobatic volley with the outside of his boot late on against Borussia Dortmund to win the game for City, who have now gone an English record 21 home matches without a loss in the Champions League.
After another milestone goal for Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, City left it late to mount a comeback. John Stones scored a rocket in the 80th minute before Haaland grabbed the winner four minutes later.
Following a minute’s silence held in respect for Queen Elizabeth II, the two typically thrilling sides played out a nervy first half.
Neither team was able to create any clear cut chances and it wasn’t until Bellingham latched onto a Marco Reus cross that either side threatened.
In scoring his fourth goal in the Champions League, Bellingham moved ahead of a host of players to become the highest-scoring English teenager ever in the competition.
Dortmund retreated deeper and deeper in an effort to preserve their lead, and it looked like they would hold out for an important win in Group G.
An unlikely hero stepped up for the home side in John Stones, who scored a spectacular goal from outside the box, with a finish reminiscent of former City captain Vincent Kompany’s famous strike against Leicester in 2019.
Just four minutes later though, Stones would inevitably be outdone by Haaland who once again stole the show.
Following intense pressure on the Dortmund defense, João Cancelo played a now trademark outside of the boot cross into the box.
The ball was seemingly too high and far away for anyone to get a head to, but Haaland, as is now routine, wowed the fans in attendance by acrobatically finishing with the outside of his left boot past a helpless Alexander Meyer.
Pep Guardiola was quick to praise the finish. “The moment he scored it, I thought, ‘Johan Cruyff,’” Guardiola raved, before making a comparison to another icon.
“I remember my dear friend [Zlatan] Ibrahimović had this ability to put the leg on the roof and Erling is quite similar on that.
“I think it is his nature. He is elastic, he is flexible and has the ability to make the contact and put the ball in the net.”
Haaland has now scored 13 goals in his first nine games for the Citizens and looks set to be a transcendent force for City in the coming months and years.
It was another example of the ruthless nature of a 22-year-old who was anonymous for most of the match, but looked set to score every time he came near the ball, a now consistent theme.
It’s an idea that Haaland is embracing, as after the match, he told BeIn Sports, “To touch the ball five times and score five times, that’s my biggest dream.”
Haaland threatened to score early on when Riyad Mahrez’s cross was taken off the Norwegian’s head by Niklas Süle.
In the second half, with his first decent chance, he struck the outside of the post from a tight angle before again nearly scoring a tap-in only for Dortmund defender Mats Hummels to make a last-ditch interception on the cross.
But the Norwegian would not be denied, scoring his 26th Champions League goal in 21 appearances, and continuing his unrivaled rise to superstardom. No one has even come close to Haaland’s record in the competition, including the tournament’s all-time top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not score his first goal in the competition until his 26th appearance.
There is an understandable reticence to put Haaland in the same category as Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, but if the striker continues scoring at the same rate, he will far outstrip the two greatest players the Champions League has ever seen.