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Haaland left out of Man City starting lineup against Aston Villa

Manchester City Erling Haaland - The Canadian Press

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Erling Haaland was left out of Manchester City's starting lineup for its Premier League match against Aston Villa on Wednesday.

But it didn't hinder the defending champion as Phil Foden scored a hat trick in a 4-1 rout at Etihad Stadium.

Haaland, the league's top scorer, was named as a substitute for the game a day after City manager Pep Guardiola described him as the “best striker in the world.”

Haaland was criticized by former Manchester United captain and now TV analyst Roy Keane after he failed to score in City's 0-0 draw with Arsenal on Sunday.

Guardiola defended the forward on Tuesday but still opted against naming him in a potentially crucial game in City's title defense.

Kevin de Bruyne was also named as a substitute.

“We put the players out to win it not just to rest players,” Guardiola said afterward. "We need fresh legs and we only played three days ago against Arsenal. We needed it because of the schedule so we needed the rest.”

The win moved third-place City level on points with Liverpool in second. Arsenal moved top after a 2-0 win against Luton at Emirates Stadium.

Guardiola's team plays at Crystal Palace on Saturday before facing Real Madrid away in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.


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