A forensic analysis of Erling Haaland’s nine goals against Honduras in 2019
Remember the time Erling Haaland exploded onto the scene, leaving some helpless Honduran kids in his wake?
Back in May 2019, there was some talk about Alf-Inge Haaland’s son – born in Leeds, and said to have been a fan of his dad’s old team – impressing as a teenager under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Molde.
Leeds are even said to have made an offer, but they were beaten to his signature by the perennial Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg in the summer of 2018, whom he eventually joined six months later.
It was at Salzburg that Haaland went stratospheric, scoring 29 goals in 27 appearances, including eight in the Champions League group stage, but the first time he really captured the wider footballing world’s attention was on the international stage.
Scoring nine goals for Norway’s youth side in a 12-0 victory over Honduras in the Under-20 World Cup in Poland is certainly one way to make a name for yourself.
“Pure pain,” football agent Jose Luis Rodriguez told Norwegian outlet VG recently, admitting that none of the Honduras players are willing to revisit the experience, such was the humiliation of the defeat.
“For the players it was horrible, they cried long afterwards. They were angry. Back home in Honduras, the whole country was talking shit about them. It was absolutely insane pressure. Many of them say it is the worst thing they have experienced in life.”
Rodriguez ran into the teenage Haaland after the match and couldn’t resist requesting a selfie with a player that had gone from a relative unknown to the next big thing overnight.
“I said, ‘You ruined my boys.’ Haaland replied, ‘I was annoyed because I could score 11 goals.’ He’s a fucking machine. I just thought, ‘Holy shit.'”
• • • •
• • • •
Given what’s happened in the couple of years since – scoring 49 goals in 49 appearances for Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund since the start of last season; becoming the fastest player to reach 20 Champions League goals, doing so in just 14 games – it should be no surprise that it was men against boys as he single-handedly put Honduras’ Under-20s to the slaughter.
By any measure, this is one of the best players in the world, and already one of the most lethal goalscorers in the history of the game.
It wasn’t a million miles off Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic turning up at your little brother’s sports day, showing no mercy.
Here’s how the game went, in gruesome, glorious detail.
Showing the kind of instincts around the six-yard box that have become the stuff of Bundesliga defender’s nightmares, Haaland’s opener was a simple enough finish by his standards at the end of a quick, incisive move.
In what’s quite simply unfair for Honduras, Norway also boasted fellow wonderkid Jens Petter Hauge – provider of the assist for the opening goal – who is now at AC Milan and a senior international after scoring 14 goals in 18 appearances in Bodo/Glimt’s fairytale maiden Norwegian title last year.
It took just seven minutes for them to combine and slice through the Honduras backline. Ominous.
A lovely ball from deep cuts through all 10 Honduras outfielders, finding Haaland in space and doing well to keep himself onside.
If we’re being ultra-critical, the striker’s first touch is a little heavy. Had the goalkeeper been a little more on his toes, he might have been able to sweep up. As it was, he had a shooting opportunity on the edge of the six-yard box – with no doubts about the finish.
After a looping ball over the top, Honduras ‘keeper Jose Omar Garcia Marin is a bit more proactive on this occasion, rushing out as Haaland takes the ball down inside the box.
A little too proactive, it transpires, clattering the striker. The finish for the resulting penalty into the bottom corner was cool as you like.
If you’re to earmark one moment that marks out the then-18-year-old Haaland as a future star, this is it.
Taking a touch to set himself 12 yards out, it’s hilarious and terrifying in equal measure just how hard he catches this. You’d run a mile if he suggested a game of Headers & Volleys at school.
Was his dad showing him old VHS tapes of Peter Lorimer growing up?
*Terminator theme intensifies*
At this point, Honduras are down to 10 men, heads have dropped, and Norway are toying with them.
To make matters worse, goals seem to be going in after just bouncing off Haaland now.
Receiving a cut-back from strike partner Kristian Thorstvedt – who somehow failed to get on the scoresheet himself – Haaland steps back to receive the ball, somehow catching it perfectly to send it spinning past the flying limbs of the Honduran defender.
Extra satisfying to watch from behind the goal.
Yet again finding the ball just at the edge of the six-yard box – it’s probably futile to start shouting “get tighter lads” in the 77th minute, in fairness – this is one of the best finishes of the lot.
Taking the ball across his body, Haaland makes a perfect connection to send it goalward. Marin manages to get in the way, but not enough to go bouncing under his body and past the goal-line.
There’s any number of Simpsons memes you can deploy for this exact moment – “stop, stop, he’s already dead,” the classic and most obvious reference point, but seeing the ‘keeper lying on the ground also brings to mind, “You can actually pinpoint the second his heart rips in half“.
It’s just not the ‘keeper’s day, is it? In fairness, he’s probably never faced shots that hard in his life, and would be unfortunate to ever do so again.
A couple of minutes after this, Honduras midfielder Everson Lopez gets a straight red card for booting Norway No.10 Eman Markovic.
Bet he wishes he’d done it in the first minute instead.