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After 14 goals in eight games, Erling Haaland will have his sights on record-breaking season

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Erling Haaland and Phil Foden celebrate hat-trick heroics. Photo: Phil Noble

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden celebrate hat-trick heroics. Photo: Phil Noble

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden celebrate hat-trick heroics. Photo: Phil Noble

Alfie Haaland, sitting in the tunnel club a few rows in front of the press box, had been fairly restrained in his celebrations as the goals flowed in for Manchester City.

But when his son plundered his third successive Premier League home hat-trick with 26 minutes still left on the clock, and carved another slice of history in the process, Dad could no longer keep his emotions in check.

Locking arms with the City fans around him as they turned their backs to the pitch en masse and began jumping up and down, Haaland Snr looked in a state of pure bliss as he joined in “the Poznan”. He was a little less happy when an overzealous fan slapped him hard on the back at the final whistle before flinging his arms around the former City midfielder’s neck, but it was a lot more gentle than the repeat punches Erling Haaland had just applied to United’s gut.

There may come a point this season when Haaland endures a sticky patch but, eight weeks into the campaign, the numbers continue to swell at a frightening rate. He now has 14 goals in eight Premier League matches at a rate of 1.75 goals per game.

Maintain that ratio and all Premier League records will be eclipsed: Mohamed Salah’s 32 in 2017-18 (the most in a 38-game season), and the 34 managed by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer in a 42-match campaign.

Hyperbole is always a danger on days of giddy delirium like this, but it is not a leap to believe fans should be bracing themselves for the Premier League’s first 40-goal season.

If Cristiano Ronaldo – a penny for his thoughts from the substitutes’ bench – and Lionel Messi were the great players of the Millennial generation, Gen Z may well be witnessing the advancement of one of the game’s next true superstars in Haaland.

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To give some context to Haaland’s impact in just a couple of months, it took Michael Owen 48 Premier League appearances to hit three hat-tricks, Ruud van Nistelrooy 59 games, Fernando Torres 64 matches and Andy Cole 65 outings. Ronaldo –the greatest goalscorer in the history of the men’s game – scored three Premier League hat-tricks in 196 appearances. Haaland has scored as many in eight games.

All that considered, it was quite astonishing to see the space United afforded Haaland and City – the planet’s hottest striker and probably its best team – on one of the most bruising afternoons in their modern history.

Haaland had warned this could be a lot of fun and he stayed true to his word, although Pep Guardiola seemed to take as much joy from seeing his centre-forward setting up goals with as splendid precision as he scored them.

Shut your eyes and the pass for Phil Foden’s second – bent from left to right, beyond the reach of Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez and a despairing Tyrell Malacia to the far post – could have been peak Kevin De Bruyne. Another assist followed for Foden’s third goal.

Guardiola admitted he wants Haaland to “touch the ball more”, while conceding that he is the “biggest talent is to put the ball in the net”. And what a talent it is – even if United gave him a helping hand.

Raphael Varane may have been off the pitch after treatment to an ankle injury when De Bruyne swung in a corner, but why did United not reorganise themselves accordingly and ensure the task of marking Haaland did not fall to Christian Eriksen? It was like no one else really fancied the task.

You could almost smell the fear in United’s ranks as Haaland rose to head home. No wonder they failed to make the final seven-club shortlist of suitors Haaland and his dad compiled before picking City.

For his second, Haaland stole behind Varane to slide in to finish De Bruyne’s exquisite ball and made no mistake in the second half when sweeping home Sergio Gomez’s cross. RIP the Manchester City false nine.

Soaking up the adulation of the crowd at the final whistle, Haaland put the match ball down so he could applaud the fans in all four corners of the ground. It was the cue for De Bruyne to cheekily kick the ball away and momentarily leave his team-mate wondering where it had gone, much to the Belgium midfielder’s amusement.

It was the only time all afternoon Haaland had failed to read what De Bruyne was going to do. Stop him if you can. 


Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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