Erling Haaland silenced his critics by netting a hat trick as Manchester City claimed a comfortable 3-0 win over Wolves on Sunday at the Etihad.
The forward broke the deadlock just before half-time, connecting with a cross from midfielder Kevin De Bruyne to head the ball in, before stepping up to double the home side’s lead with a penalty in the 50th minute after Ilkay Gundogan was tripped by Ruben Neves.
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Just a few minutes later, Haaland made it three by slotting home a pass from Riyad Mahrez into the bottom left corner of the goal past Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa.
The strike took the Norway international to 25 goals this season, two more than either Son Heung-Min or Mohamed Salah scored as the Premier League joint top scorers last season.
“He [Haaland] has to get the balls delivered, he has fantastic players around him,” City boss Pep Guardiola said. “The ball from Kevin is fantastic.
“He [Haaland] lives 24 hours for his job, passion, love. He’s not stressed much. He is stable. He feels the defeats. His numbers are incredible.
“The way we played today was quite similar to the first-half when we were losing 2-0 to Spurs [on Thursday]. Our game, football was really good. Today we improved.”
City defenfer John Stones praised Haaland and his team’s depth, saying to Sky Sports after the match: “That’s his quality. I’m so pleased for him again. He just keeps coming up with the goals.
“We have had a lot of good goals from different players coming off the bench, starting the games. Riyad [Mahrez] the other night. I don’t want to just put it all on him. We all need to chip and we are doing but when he score three in a game it’s difficult!”
Haaland also broke former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of being the fastest player to four Premier League hat-tricks. Haaland’s four came in 19 games, Van Nistelrooy’s in 65.
Haaland had in fact endured a mini goal drought of three City appearances in all competitions prior to last week’s strike against Tottenham, but he certainly brought his shooting boots for the visit of struggling Wolves.
His remarkable 25-goal league haul from 19 matches would have been enough to win the Premier League Golden Boot in each of the previous four seasons. Dixie Dean’s record of 60 goals scored in a single league season, set in 1928, remains in sight.
Haaland has more than double the league goals Wolves have mustered this season. They are only above the relegation zone on goal difference.
“We made mistakes, but the first half worried me more than the second half,” coach Julen Lopetegui said.
“It’s always possible to improve the squad while the [transfer] window is open, but it’s important to improve the players who are already here.”
The win keeps City second in the table knocking on the heels of leaders Arsenal, with the London club set to play Manchester United later on Sunday.
Information from Reuters contributed to this report.
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