Erling Haaland and Virgil van Dijk faced off for the third time last night, with the
Liverpool and Netherlands defender having a rough night in a 1-1 draw with Norway.
Dutch captain Van Dijk returned from a long-term injury to start the season
with Liverpool last month, and has hinted a return to his previous level might be
possible despite a debilitating knee injury.
Haaland, one of the world’s leading young talents, built up his opponent pre-game
calling him the best defender he’s met after their previous two Champions League
clashes when Haaland was at Salzburg.
“I do not really fear anyone, I think he is the best defender,” Haaland said.
“I think quite a few others in the room agree with me on that. He is fast, strong, and
‘bad’ smart, and they are three important things you must have.
“I have played against him twice, I have said that he is the best I have met. He is a
good player, so we have to try to play around him.”
Haaland managed a goal previously against van Dijk back in the 2019/20 Champions
League group stages, announcing himself on the world stage with eight goals in six
games before moving to Borussia Dortmund.
And on Wednesday night he managed another against the 2019 UEFA Men’s Player of
the Year, sending a shot past a sliding van Dijk for a 20th minute lead in the World
Things later got worse for Van Dijk, 30, damaging his finger at the start of the second
half and his tormentor Haaland was once again responsible.
“I think I broke van Dijk’s finger,” Haaland said post-match.
“He came up to me and said ‘f***ing hell, I think you broke my finger.’ I have no idea
how it happened.”
The Netherlands managed to take a point from the tie in Louis van Gaal’s first game
back in the hot seat, with former Everton midfielder Davy Klaassen scoring the
However, the drama wasn’t yet over for van Dijk, when an over excited supporter ran
on the pitch to embrace him during an interview.
We’re used to scenes of the likes of Neymar indulging fans who run on the pitch, but
the Netherlands captain had no time for such pleasantries, swiftly pushing the pitch
invader back where he came from.