Haaland hat-trick sees off Wolves
Erling Haaland was our hat-trick hero as his fourth treble of the season ensured a 3-0 victory over Wolves.
Haaland made it to 25 goals in the Premier League – and 31 across all competitions – following a clinical display of finishing at the Etihad Stadium.
He headed home his first via a pinpoint cross from the right by Kevin De Bruyne on 40 minutes.
Haaland scored his second from the penalty spot on 50 minutes before getting his third with a cushioned effort on 53 minutes.
The Norwegian has now also scored 18 goals on home soil in the top-flight this season – the most home goals in a single Premier League season for City.
City went in one-up at the break and it was the least we deserved after a first half full of menace.
It was, at times, also a spicy opening period with four yellow cards handed out, including one for opposition boss Julen Lopetegui.
The first talking point came on two minutes as calls for a penalty were waved away by referee David Coote, as John Stones and Nelson Semedo tussled in the box with Kevin De Bruyne set to whip in a corner.
With the Etihad Stadium in full voice, amid chants of ‘Stand up for the Champions’, ‘City’ and ‘Super Jack Grealish’, Max Kilman became the latest player in the book on 10 minutes as he hacked down Ilkay Gundogan following a slick move sent the German down the left flank.
Gundogan, initially dazed by the challenge and in need of treatment, was back in action several minutes later.
There was another yellow card for the visitors on 13 minutes as Mario Lemina argued a decision a little too vociferously, Hwang Hee-chan having been adjudged to have fouled Rico Lewis, the Gabonese midfielder feeling it should have gone the other way.
Boss Lopetegui clearly felt the same way as he was added to the book by referee Coote.
After that initial period, which didn’t get going due to the stoppages for cautions, City eased into their usual dominant pressing, passing game – and created a host of chances.
Haaland almost opened the scoring on 18 minutes after being played in nicely by De Bruyne down the left channel.
Our star striker’s shot was well saved by Jose Sa and he couldn’t quite create the right angle to get another strike in as the ball ricocheted back to him.
John Stones flew forward on 23 minutes with pace and grace and played a ball down the right to Riyad Mahrez who cut back for Rico Lewis to cross deep to the back post where Jack Grealish was waiting – but the winger couldn’t quite get the right connection.
Rodri was put in the book on 25 minutes for pulling back Matheus Nunes.
Grealish, a constant menace down that left side, blasted a shot goalwards from 20 yards on 29 minutes but, again, Sa was equal to it as he parried clear.
Gundogan headed over a Lewis cross on 30 minutes while an intricate throughball down the middle by De Bruyne couldn’t quite find an onrushing Haaland two minutes later.
Rodri fired just over from 25 yards after making space for himself to shoot on 33 minutes.
With the clock ticking down to half-time, Haaland headed home on 40 minutes. He found a pinpoint cross from De Bruyne who was teed up perfectly by Mahrez on the right.
Grealish felt he should have had a penalty on 42 minutes as he was clipped on the calf by Nathan Collins but the referee waved away the appeals.
In first half stoppage time, Nathan Collins – who was red carded in the corresponding fixture at Molineux, was the hero for the visitors as he stopped two great chances for City.
First, he cleared a Grealish shot from just outside the area off the line and then did much the same from a Gundogan cross from the right.
Haaland stepped up to make it 2-0 on 50 minutes as he made no mistake from the penalty spot with an arrow true and straight down the middle.
The spot-kick was earned when Gundogan was brought down in the box by Wolves skipper Ruben Neves.
On 53 minutes, City fans thought it was 3-0 as Mahrez headed goalwards from a Grealish cross but his effort was into the sidenetting.
Haaland made it a hat-trick on 54 minutes as he cushioned home following an unselfish pass by the onrushing Mahrez.
Mahrez thought he’d made it 4-0 on 66 minutes as he chipped cleverly over Sa from a De Bruyne pass but the assistant referee waved his flag and the decision was upheld by VAR.
Ederson was called into action on 68 minutes as he managed to get a hand to Daniel Podence’s cheeky chipped effort.
Substitute Julian Alvarez almost got his name on the scoresheet on 73 minutes as he raced towards goal only for his effort to be saved by Sa.
Gundogan headed over, when well placed, on 80 minutes, with City not letting up in our quest for more goals.
But, despite plenty of effort and endeavour to find another, it remained 3-0 as the referee blew his whistle following three minutes of added time at the end of a dominant 90 for City.
Erling Haaland has now moved up to joint 10th in the list of all-time Premier League goalscorers at the Etihad Stadium.
After his hat-trick against Wolves, he’s now scored 18 goals on home soil in the top-flight - despite only joining City this summer.
Haaland is level with Edin Dzeko (18/62) in the list when it comes to strike figures on home soil.
And he’s reached that point in only 10 games.
The stats surrounding his fourth hat-trick are also incredibly impressive.
He achieved that number of trebles in just 19 appearances, breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy's record in a whopping 46 fewer matches.
It was that man - Erling Haaland!
Stay tuned for the verdict of the manager.
Stay tuned for the verdict of the manager.
City moved to within two points of Barclays Premier League table toppers Arsenal – for now at least.
The 3-0 victory over Wolves puts us on 45 points from 20 games.
However, the Gunners have two games in hand, the first of which they’re set to take part in shortly against Manchester United.
They’re hosting the Red Devils in the 16:30 (UK) kick-off at the Emirates Stadium.
Our final game in January – our seventh of the month – sees us face Arsenal in the FA Cup.
We host the Gunners for a 20:00 kick-off on Friday 27 January at the Etihad Stadium.
It’s a Round Four encounter, having seen off Chelsea 4-0 on home soil in Round Three.
In terms of Premier League action, we travel to their North London neighbours, Tottenham on Sunday 5 February, kick-off 16:30 (UK).