The Sun (Malaysia)
Haaland on fire
Norwegian’s latest ominous warning to the rest of the Premier League
Premier League career is so brief that he was crowned PFA Player of the Year for his debut season only this week. It is nevertheless already the case that only eight players have scored more hattricks in the division.
His fifth in the top flight, and seventh for Manchester City, drew him level with Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robin van Persie, Ian Wright, Raheem Sterling, Dimitar Berbatov and Andy Cole.
Arguably each could be called a Premier League great. Certainly each had a far longer career than Haaland, who has Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney in his sights now. If he was Sergio Aguero’s belated successor as City’s striker, he is the threat to the Argentinian’s divisional record of 12 trios.
His latest treble was a combination of the opportunistic and the deadly. As Fulham suffered their habitual defeat to Manchester City – making it 15 losses on the trot and taking the aggregate score in the last 10 meetings at the Etihad Stadium to 32-3 – the most important goal was the most contentious, scored by Nathan Ake on the stroke of halftime.
Then Haaland turned it into a rout. When Julian Alvarez’s shot bounced off Tim Ream and fell obligingly, he slotted a shot past Bernd Leno. When Alvarez was bundled over in the box by Issa Diop, Haaland converted emphatically. When the substitute Sergio Gomez embarked on a mazy solo run and supplied a low cutback, Haaland arrowed a shot into the bottom corner.
He had already been announced as the player of the match, though he probably has a surfeit of the hardware such prizes produce. He took his tallies to 38 goals in 28 games at the Etihad and 42 in 39 Premier League games. He also had a part in four goals, as Alvarez did in three: in each case, not always with perfect accuracy when finding the other.
Haaland said he is hungry for more goals and glory after the match yesterday. The Norwegian’s 52-goal campaign helped City win the treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup in his first season at the club.
City have since added the UEFA Super Cup to their collection and have picked up maximum points from their opening four games of the Premier League season.
“I’m always hungry,” said Haaland. “It’s a new season and I’m ready for it.”
Despite those positive results, though, City have been far from their sparkling best in the first month of the new season.
“Every year is like this at this club. We start a bit late and a bit sloppy because we play right until the last game (of the season) because we are the best club,” said
“It is how it is. We will only get better and better from here.”
Without the presence of Pep Guardiola on the touchline, as he recovers from back surgery in his native Catalonia, the home side failed to muster a shot on target in the first half hour against Fulham.
Even after Julian Alvarez opened the scoring from Haaland’s cross, Fulham responded almost immediately when Tim Ream tapped home from a corner.
City needed a controversial second goal to go in ahead at halftime.
Nathan Ake headed in Phil Foden’s cross but Manuel Akanji, who was standing in an offside position, jumped over the ball to distract Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
“The moment for the second City goal made a huge impact in the game,” said Fulham boss Marco Silva.
“A bad decision from the linesman and then someone in the (VAR) office to not disallow this goal is incredible.”
City assistant boss Juanma Lillo, who took caretaker charge in Guardiola’s absence said: “This guy was born scoring goals and he will go through his whole life scoring goals.
“It would be no surprise if he manages to get the same figures as last year but it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t.
“Today he was great at providing for other players, he gave one assist and has this importance to other players, it’s not about just scoring goals.”