Haaland scores a hat-trick as Manchester City hammer Nottingham Forest by six

Who will bet against Erling Haaland erasing Sergio Aguero’s Manchester City club record of 260 goals if the ruthless goalscorer continues at his current rate?

It was the centre-forward’s second hat-trick in five days to take his tally to nine goals in five games – one more than the brilliant Argentine returned with the same tally during his outing for City. Aguero had 390 appearances to reach his latest tally and Haaland could eclipse that impressive tally as well.

A delighted Pep Guardiola said: “Sergio is the legend. No one can break the position in the hearts of City fans, scoring the most important goal in the club’s modern history. Erling has the quality to be there. What Sergio has done is incredible. But Erling has that talent. Hopefully he can enjoy himself and score more goals.

“Knowing him a bit, I don’t know if he’d be happy breaking records if we didn’t win titles.”

On Haaland and Julián Álvarez, who scored two goals, Guardiola added: “These two are so young, I have the feeling that they are saying: ‘OK, I want to prove myself to the world in the toughest league in the world’ “.

Haaland’s display was the latest exhibition of how he adds a different and terrifying dimension to City. Nottingham Forest, thirsty for Steve Cooper’s plethora of new signings, ended up humiliated by the lesson their hosts gave them.

Bernardo Silva’s mazy run gave Scott McKenna an early test – the Forest defender, caught momentarily, flicked the ball towards a corner. That was burned to Alvarez, making his full debut, and Forest escaped.

The visitors were already under siege and a fourth corner from Ilkay Gündogan – from the left – was hit short to Phil Foden, who dropped a good lob into the box. Ryan Yates let it bounce, Dean Henderson was a statue on his line, Joe Worrall couldn’t hold Haaland and the Norwegian finished.

Forest’s initial response was to prowl the pitch in a move that saw Renan Lodi, wearing Forest colors for the first time, miss a point-blank header. City are tough enough without the kind of mistake Henderson made to give them a second. The goalkeeper received a regulation clearance from Silva, who fed Álvarez: the Argentine recycled the ball to Gündogan, who in turn found Haaland.

A dizzying sequence now involved Foden and when he crossed there was the City number 9 to double the lead. All this without City’s pre-eminent talent, Kevin De Bruyne, the Belgian watching from the bench. What he saw was a team in total control who reveled in a supreme ball game playing with their guests and carrying the threat of a third. It came through Haaland, whose hat-trick was followed by a leaping John Stones who put the ball on his head – at close range the lethal 22-year-old was never going to miss.

Erling Haaland celebrates in front of the jubilant Manchester City fans after scoring his second goal.
Erling Haaland celebrates in front of the jubilant Manchester City fans after scoring his second goal. Photograph: Craig Brough/Reuters

The period closed with Alvarez hitting a low shot off Henderson’s right post before Forest ran away, dazed and confused. Cooper’s side were on their way to a serious beating.

The sight of Haaland galloping into the channels to collect possession and pull defenders was a sure sign that he and City wanted more. So they scored a quarter. Once again, Forest were heavy – Silva danced inside and swept a ball past João Cancelo, who had the age to stand up and then fire into the top corner from 20 yards. Another indicator beyond the scoreboard of City’s supremacy was Guardiola’s move to replace Foden and Rodri with Riyad Mahrez and Cole Palmer 10 minutes into the second half.

The latter soon received the applause of his coach for a show of strength on the part of the technical area, moments later he made a cross that called for the finish. As the hour ticked by, City’s possession percentage stood at 77 – it felt closer to 100 due to the relentless pounding they inflicted on their bewildered opponents, as Alvarez, quite a turn of energy, made it 5-0 with a neat flick of his right boot past the hapless Henderson.

When Haaland departed in the 68th minute, a roar of praise was his reward. Seeing the 6ft 3in predator retire might have cheered Forest up a bit, unless De Bruyne was his replacement. For the final phase, 21-year-old Sergio Gomez and 17-year-old Rico Lewis were given a second appearance for City. There was zero rest: Álvarez took a second with minutes remaining.

City’s 19 goals are their highest at this stage of a league campaign. Cooper said afterwards: “An incredible team playing in an incredible way.”

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