Report and free match highlights as Erling Haaland’s three goals earned Manchester City a comfortable victory over Wolves at the Etihad Stadium; the win temporarily closed the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal but remains at five points
Erling Haaland scored a hat-trick against Wolves as Manchester City maintained the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal with a 3-0 win.
Wolves stifled the home side for much of the first half before Haaland took charge, heading in Kevin De Bruyne’s cross. He added a second from the spot early in the second half and completed the hat-trick with a straightforward finish after Jose Sa’s error.
Only his substitution spared Wolves. The goals take Haaland’s Premier League total for the season to 25 in just 19 appearances. The mini drought of two games ended with his header against Tottenham on Thursday evening. A new scoring streak has begun.
Haaland’s treble was also a strong riposte to claims that City had become a worse team, in terms of style at least, since the striker’s arrival in the summer.
Guardiola said: “When he scores I don’t know how many hat-tricks and goals, (people say) he is the solution in our team and when he does not score a goal he is a problem in our team. This is a grey vision of this kind of things.
“We know his quality, we know each other. He is not a player to be dropped. We cannot play a false nine with him, we have to adapt with him and I think we are doing quite well.”
The result temporarily closed the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal but remains at five points after Manchester United were defeated 3-2 later on Super Sunday. Wolves remain just outside the relegation zone, ahead of Bournemouth on goal difference.
Man City: Ederson (6), Lewis (7), Stones (8), Akanji (7), Laporte (7), Rodri (7), Gundogan (7), De Bruyne (8), Mahrez (8), Haaland (9), Grealish (8).
Subs: Ake (7), Alvarez (7), Silva (7), Phillips (6), Palmer (6).
Wolves: Sa (4), Semedo (5), Collins (5), Kilman (5), Bueno (6), Neves (5), Nunes (6), Lemina (6), Traore (5), Jimenez (5), Hwang (5).
Subs: Cunha (6), Moutinho (6), Sarabia (5), Podence (7), Ait-Nouri (6).
Player of the match: Erling Haaland.
How Haaland saw off Wolves
Pep Guardiola had been frustrated with his players in midweek, criticising the lack of fire and there were periods during the first half when that intensity was lacking. But that trusted combination of De Bruyne and Haaland broke the deadlock and City did not look back.
The lively Jack Grealish had a strong penalty appeal denied and saw a shot cleared off the line by Nathan Collins in the minutes after the opening goal as the Premier League champions upped the tempo. Wolves made three substitutions at half-time. It did not help.
Pep Guardiola made two changes to the team that beat Tottenham with Nathan Ake and Julian Alvarez dropping out, replaced by Aymeric Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne.
Wolves changed three of the team that beat West Ham with Daniel Podence, Joao Moutinho and Matheus Cunha benched in favour of Mario Lemina, Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore. Pablo Sarabia had to wait for his full debut, he was among the substitutes.
Ruben Neves tripped Ilkay Gundogan inside the penalty box soon after the break and Haaland did the rest from the spot. His third goal might have been even easier, laid on for him unselfishly by Riyad Mahrez after Sa had passed the ball straight to the winger.
Mahrez thought he had his goal when De Bruyne played him in but he was narrowly offside and with Haaland substituted Wolves were spared further punishment. The debate about Haaland’s impact at City will continue but his scoring record really does speak for itself.
Haaland in stats
- Erling Haaland has scored 18 goals in just 11 Premier League home games, the most home goals by a Manchester City player in a single campaign (overtaking Sergio Aguero in 2011-12 – 16).
- Kevin De Bruyne has assisted Haaland five times in the Premier League this season for Manchester City – this is the most assists by one player for another in the competition this term.
- Haaland has scored 25 goals in the Premier League this season, overtaking last season’s Golden Boot winners (Mohamed Salah and Heung-Min – 23).
- Haaland has scored his fourth Premier League hat-trick for Man City in what is just his 19th appearance, the fewest games taken to score four hat-tricks in the competition’s history. The previous record was 65 appearances by Ruud van Nistelrooy.
FPL Stats: Man City 3-0 Wolves
GoalsHaaland (3)AssistsDe Bruyne, Gundogan, MahrezBonus pointsHaaland (3), Laporte, Stones (2)
Guardiola: Haaland numbers incredible
“When we lost the Community Shield to Liverpool, all the questions before West Ham [on the first day of the season] is that he will not adapt to the Premier League, when he scores goals [people say] he is the solution and when he does not he is the problem.
“He’s not a player to be dropped [deep]. We cannot play the false nine with him. We have to adapt and I think they are doing pretty well.”
“We have fantastic players around him but the first goal is because he is there and the ball from Kevin is fantastic. He lives 24 hours for his job, his profession, his love. He does not stress much when it is going good or bad. The numbers are incredible.”
Stones: We did so well after Spurs
“We did so well after the other day,” John Stones told Sky Sports after the game. “We were frustrated with ourselves and the manager made that clear. “We knew today we had to hit the ground running, set a good tempo and I think we did that.”
Whether or not Stones’ manager is completely satisfied can be harder to predict. Asked afterwards whether he would still describe his Manchester City as a ‘happy flowers’ team, Guardiola said: “It is getting better but it is just one game. I have to wait.”
Lopetegui: We deserved to lose
“In the first half, we were not able to overcome them to arrive in the opposition box. In these kind of games if you are only in the defensive phase you are going to suffer in the end.
“After we suffered the goal we tried to change a lot of things. When you change three players at half-time, it is not the fault of the players, maybe the fault of the coach.
“We deserve to lose but I prefer to lose in one way – we have to try to damage the opponent. In the second half at least we tried to damage them. I was not happy, of course, but I was more worried by the first half than the second half.”
Manchester City now turn their attention to a blockbuster FA Cup fourth-round tie at home to Premier League title rivals Arsenal on Friday, kick-off 8pm.
City then face another north London club in Tottenham for their next Premier League game on February 5, live on Sky Sports with kick-off at 4.30pm.
City’s busy February schedule sees them host Aston Villa, live on Sky Sports, on February 12, before a league clash against Arsenal three days later. A trip to Nottingham Forest is followed by their Champions League last-16 first-leg at RB Leipzig, before travelling to Bournemouth to end the month.
Wolves‘ FA Cup exit last week means they have next weekend off, with their next game being a home clash with Liverpool on Feburary 4.
Julen Lopetegui’s side travel to Southampton, host Bournemouth and go to Fulham in their remaining fixtures next month.