Erling Haaland scored his fourth Manchester City hat-trick and took his tally for the season to 31 in all competitions as relegation-threatened Wolves were swept aside by Pep Guardiola’s men.
By his own incredibly high standards, Haaland had been through a barren period.
But after ending a three-game drought against Tottenham on Thursday, the Norwegian demolished Wolves with 12 minutes either side of half-time.
Haaland rose first to drive home Kevin de Bruyne’s cross to put the hosts ahead at the break.
He then netted a penalty after Ilkay Gundogan was fouled by Wolves skipper Ruben Neves, before netting his third goal after Jose Sa’s pass from outside his penalty area went straight to Riyad Mahrez .
Haaland has now scored 25 goals in City’s first 20 Premier League games. That would have been enough to earn him the Golden Boot in more than half of the 30 seasons since the English top flight was renamed in 1992.
He’s also already scored as many Premier League hat-tricks as Mo Salah, and a third of Sergio Aguero’s record 12, which the Argentine scored during his magnificent decade with City.
Only Alan Shearer has scored more Premier League hat-tricks in a single season, with five.
Haaland driving City on
When Guardiola released his extraordinary rant after the win over Tottenham, he spoke of the difficulty of maintaining drive and determination when you’re so used to winning.
That’s why Haaland is so important for this team.
The Norwegian’s last league title dates back to three years in Austria. His last trophy was the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund.
If the idea of a fifth championship in six seasons fails to motivate some City players, Haaland is not one of them, and his thirst for goals could be a telling factor as the second unfolds. half of this season.
Guardiola saw no point in pushing the forward and replaced him with World Cup winner Julian Alvarez after an hour.
More good news for City is that Jack Grealish also seems to be finding more consistency.
His teasing advances from the left are more reminiscent of his days at Aston Villa and would have earned him a first-half goal if not for Sa making a superb save and Nathan Collins hadn’t been in the right place at the right time to lead another effort out of line.
Mahrez had an effort ruled out for offside, after which City went home and Haaland got cheers from the home fans at the end.
The stand of the Lopetegui wolves
It was the first significant setback for Julen Lopetegui since replacing Bruno Lage as Wolves boss during the World Cup.
If there’s any comfort for the former Spain and Real Madrid manager, it comes from the fact that there aren’t many more demanding tests than this, even if his side do not stay in outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.
The arrival of Craig Dawson for £3.3million from West Ham should help shore up a tentative defence, while a first start for Mario Lemina here, plus a start for Pablo Sarabia, further creates a team with which Lopetegui can work – especially if his other transfer window target, Flamengo’s Joao Gomes, can be kept away from the Lyonnais.
He clearly wants more width from Wolves’ passage, although he has a week to work on that before a crucial month which sees his side face two teams currently below them, Southampton and Bournemouth, in successive weeks. .
Certainly, no one could accuse Lopetegui of not having invested in his work. He was booked with Neves for falling out over an incident when City’s Rico Lewis appeared to bring down Hwang Hee-chan, as the South Korean was about to set off on a long run towards goal de City before Haaland changed the direction of the competition.
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