Man City 4 Crystal Palace 2: Erling Haaland scores first Premier League hat-trick to inspire amazing win from 2-0 down


THE first statue might have been nicked but don’t worry Erling – at this rate you won’t have long to wait for another.

If Manchester City’s new goal machine carries on in this vein, they’ll be knocking it up before the end of this season.

Erling Haaland celebrates his brilliant hat-trick
Erling Haaland celebrates his brilliant hat-trick
City's new No9 bags his third to seal the three points
City’s new No9 bags his third to seal the three points
Joachim Andersen had put Palace 2-0 up
Joachim Andersen had put Palace 2-0 up

Two goals down – for the FOURTH time in six games – against their bogey side, who have twice come to the Etihad and taken the points, things looked bleak for Pep Guardiola’s men.

But then up stepped Haaland with a cold-eyed assassin’s hat-trick in 19 magic minutes, and the champions were out of jail and heading for victory.

And in bagging his first treble in sky blue, the Nordic marauder made it six goals in his first four games since his summer signing from Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland is such a hero in his hometown of Bryne that a statue was recently commissioned, sculpted from a tree.

Yet it was deemed to look so ugly and unlike him that on Wednesday locals stole it, claiming it was an insult.

Take that as a gauntlet thrown down as and when they eventually decide to do the same outside the Etihad, alongside Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and David Silva.

But how unlikely it seemed as Palace went into the break two goals in front, City didn’t manage a shot on target, and you couldn’t argue against it either.

City had dominated the ball in that opening period – you’d expect nothing else – but it was Palace who put the ball in the net.

The first time before they’d even come up with a shot of their own, too – a clear indication that, while City have enjoyed plenty of strolls in the park on their own patch, this certainly wasn’t going to be another.

Keeper Ederson didn’t cover himself in glory in letting the ball squirm away as he slid out to smother as Jordan Ayew hared through, before Joao Cancelo upended the Palace man.

Eberechi Eze swung in the free kick which skimmed a couple of heads, hit Kyle Walker on the elbow and then bulleted into the net off John Stones’ knee.

A blip and no more? Well actually a second goal was coming. Only not as expected, because 20 minutes in Palace were two up.

Again the provider was Eze, this time with a corner from the same right flank as his earlier pinpoint free kick.

And Joachim Andersen could barely believe it as he was totally unmarked, with Walker for some reason standing off him, and he powered a header past Ederson.

On another day two could even have become three, after a bizarre incident when Ederson rolled it out, and the ball had left his hand when it clipped Edouard’s boot.

It skewed to Jordan Ayew, who tapped it into an unguarded goal, only for referee Darren England to say no.

Probably right, but had it been at the other end, you can be certain City would have been screaming for a VAR check and the ref to take a second look.

With Guardiola’s men struggling so much, it seemed unlikely to have a great bearing on things. But that, as the fans were eventually gleefully chanting, is why they’re champions.

Eight minutes after the break they were still trailing by two. Little more than 15 more and incredibly, unbelievably, they were in front.

The lifeline came from Bernardo Silva, always the likeliest provider of it, when he jinked in from the right, stepped inside Tyrick Mitchell, and drilled low past Vicente Guaita.

Although Silva’s task was admittedly made easier by Jeff Schlupp turning his back rather than rushing out to block. He should be grateful James Milner isn’t a team-mate.

Suddenly Palace were rocking, City were rolling… and just after the hour mark they were level.

Kevin De Bruyne looped in a cross from the right and Alvarez’ first touch after coming from the bench was to glance it behind him to Phil Foden.

He clipped it back into the danger zone, and Haaland was never going to be denied from six yards as he threw his head at it.

Cue ecstasy at the Etihad – and even more mayhem 20 minutes from time when the champions were in front.

Once more Alvarez was a key figure, with a neat pass to Silva – who was involved twice – before Stones dragged a shot across goal… only for the lurking Haaland to jab it home.

His hat-trick goal was the best of the lot, too, holding off Joel Ward when Ilkay Gundogan rolled it into his feet, before he turned and stabbed home.

Job done, breathe easy at last. Although they won’t always escape unscathed if they wait until they’re two down to start playing…as Pep will doubtless have told them.


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