Haaland’s 19-minute Manchester City hat-trick extinguishes Crystal Palace fire

Erling Haaland may have been a bargain even at £100m, but costing Manchester City just north of £50m is a slightly ridiculous price in the definitely ridiculously inflated transfer market. The No. 9 scored a brilliant 19-minute hat-trick that included the equalizer and the goals that sealed victory as Pep Guardiola’s champions made it two for the quarter in their last six competitive games.

The Norwegian’s third was greeted by a Guardiola game of jubilation and delirium from a home crowd that witnessed Haaland’s first City strikes at the Etihad and capped a superb fightback that began after Bernardo Silva had headed a second half by throwing one.

Before that, Crystal Palace had beaten Ederson for the third time, to follow John Stones’ own goal and Joachim Anderson’s header. The City keeper rolled the ball straight to Jordan Ayew with a touch from Odsonne Édouard and Ayew found the net. However, referee Darren England awarded a foul, perhaps against Édouard’s high leg, but VAR at least could have intervened as it looked legitimate.

Although no Palace players complained, they were excited after three minutes when Eberechi Eze sent a free-kick into the box which bounced past Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker and Stones before slotting home . Guardiola responded with a shake of the head. His side’s response was a phase of possession that featured Walker at full-back and Haaland leaping to deflect a header from a corner.

The city had its foot on the gas. The England referee waved away a handball screamer in the Palace box, then João Cancelo found Riyad Mahrez who nodded to Haaland who brought down Marc Guéhi in front of goal. The referee called a foul for this and there were boos at home as the Palace keeper tackled the restart.

When his team took the next one, he struck again, making two goals from two saves from Eze: the No.10 took a corner from the right and Walker and Haaland allowed Andersen to rise free to slot in from none

Pep Guardiola embraces Bernardo Silva after the player sparked Manchester City's second-half revival.
Pep Guardiola embraces Bernardo Silva after the player sparked Manchester City’s second-half revival. Photograph: Craig Brough/Reuters

By this stage, City were toothless and needed cooler heads than Haaland showed when he ripped Andersen’s.

Wilfried Zaha’s absence from Vieira’s team sheet due to a knee problem had ruled out a repeat of him being the Palace wrecking ball he proved in the 2-0 win of the season pass when the striker scored the first goal, had Aymeric Laporte sent off and designed the second.

Eze, though, was a willing deputy, troubling City’s backline when Palace used the same breakout tactics. Mahrez’s brain snaps the other way as he tries to force City’s way. The Algerian struck again, beating Tyrick Mitchell and crossing from the right: Vicente Guaita got a glove on the ball and eluded all the blues around him.

Eight minutes into the restart, Silva, who collected a pass from Rodri, got in with Guéhi without being able to intervene, and the shot saw Jeffrey Schlupp deflect and into City’s first through the number 15 from Palace.

Erling Haaland jumps for joy after scoring his hat-trick and City's fourth to secure the game.
Erling Haaland jumps for joy after scoring his hat-trick and City’s fourth to secure the game. Photo: Nick Potts/PA

The home crowd had stuck with their side all afternoon and their first reward was followed by the sight of more wizardry from Silva as he fooled Eze, Guéhi and Schlupp before scoring marginally wide. The Portuguese was inevitably involved when City equalised. After another bob-and-weave, he played in an overlapping De Bruyne that created an arcing ball that Julián Álvaraz, only a substitute, slotted past Phil Foden. The chip on Haaland’s forehead was as perfect as the finish.

Foden, in one of Guardiola’s ever-intriguing tactical moves, was now at left-back in place of Cancelo, with De Bruyne filling the right-hand slot. Haaland’s second, which put City 3-2 up, capped off a pinball-like sequence that twice involved Silva and a wasted effort from Stones that allowed the lethal 22-year-old to slot home.

When Haaland came off towards the end he deserved the standing ovation he received.

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