Pep Guardiola put Manchester City’s Premier League rivals on notice as he nonchalantly shrugged off the significance of Erling Haaland’s hat-trick against Crystal Palace as “nothing special”.
City beat Palace 4-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday as they came from two goals behind for the fourth time in six Premier League matches.
A John Stones own goal and Joachim Andersen’s header had Palace in a commanding position by the 21st minute, but the excellent Bernardo Silva instigated the comeback by pulling one back just after half-time.
Haaland then took over, scoring twice with poacher’s finishes before wrapping up his hat-trick with a clinical strike after holding off his marker.
It was his fourth hat-trick in one of Europe’s big five leagues and made him just the fourth player to score six or more goals in his first four Premier League appearances.
Initially, Guardiola was hardly giddy with excitement about the hat-trick as he essentially suggested such a display of goalscoring is par for the course with the Norwegian, but he later expanded on his early impressions of City’s new star striker.
Guardiola told Sky Sports: “What he has done today he has done all his career. It’s nothing special.”
He then added in his post-match press conference: “I would say thanks to me for my brilliant ideas, but I’d say Erling has done this since he was born.
“Always he has done this in his life, at Salzburg, BVB [Borussia Dortmund], always scored goals. These teams who defend deep… he has an incredible sense of goal. The three goals, especially the last one, the first one as well, good goals.
“He came for that [scoring important goals], what he has done all his life, the numbers of this guy is beyond [comprehension].
“The most important thing is he settled perfectly, an incredibly humble guy. He chats more with guys from the academy players, and it means a lot.
“What I like about Erling is we are still knowing each other, still need more time. I saw his body language at 2-0 down how he encouraged his mates. I had the feeling maybe he was not involved in the game, but always he was there.
“He didn’t run from the game, always he is there. As a striker, that is incredible, he didn’t touch the ball but had a feeling the ball was there and was always involved.
“Football is here [the head]. The third goal, it’s the same pass from [Ilkay] Gundogan at West Ham, we spoke to put the ball to his feet between the central defenders.
“It was quite similar to West Ham how he used his body. He didn’t shoot, he put it soft where the keeper cannot save. Look at the numbers, strikers are numbers. You see how many games in his career; how many goals [he’s scored] is astonishing.”
Haaland’s hat-trick came from 1.4 expected goals, highlighting just how clinical the former Borussia Dortmund star was on the day.
But more importantly, his exploits turned a losing position into a winning one, and that is essentially why Guardiola wanted to sign him.
“Definitely for this type of game,” Guardiola told BBC Sport of his reasons for signing the striker. “We have not done anything special for him that he didn’t do before.
“It is important for him to get goals. He has the sense to score goals. The third one, to have the quality to be strong then put the ball in the net… the space depends on the movement of the opponents.
“You have to be patient and have more runners. It gives him more space.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!