Erling Haaland haunted his hometown club with a second-half brace as Manchester City beat Leeds United 3-1 on their return to Premier League action on Wednesday.
Haaland – who was born in Leeds when his father Alf-Inge represented the Whites – missed two good chances as the champions dominated the first half, but Rodri poked them ahead on the stroke of half-time.
The Norwegian striker was not to be denied after the break, tapping home following an error from home captain Liam Cooper before doubling up with a right-footed finish.
That meant Haaland reached 20 Premier League goals in record time on his 14th appearance, helping City move back into second place despite Pascal Struijk’s consolation.
20 – Erling Haaland has become the fastest player to score 20 goals in the Premier League, doing so in 14 appearances:
14 – Erling Haaland
21 – Kevin Phillips
23 – Andrew Cole
26 – Ruud van Nistelrooy
26 – Diego Costa
26 – Tony Yeboah
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 28, 2022
City almost went ahead inside 36 seconds, but Illan Meslier got a hand to Haaland’s chipped effort after the striker was released Nathan Ake.
The Leeds goalkeeper made another one-on-one save from Haaland on the half-hour mark, before Jack Grealish missed two glaring opportunities to break the deadlock – the second a dire mishit from Rico Lewis’ cut-back.
However, the hosts’ resistance was finally broken in first-half stoppage time, with Rodri pouncing to bundle home when Meslier denied Riyad Mahrez following a flowing City move.
Leeds were masters of their own downfall five minutes after the restart, as Cooper’s sloppy pass allowed Grealish to steal possession and tee up Haaland for a simple finish.
Haaland had his second of the game just past the hour, Meslier failing to keep his powerful right-footed shot out.
Leeds cut the deficit 17 minutes from time when Struijk headed Sam Greenwood’s corner beyond Ederson, though City managed to see out the win despite Joe Gelhardt threatening.
What does it mean? City stay on Arsenal’s coattails
Arsenal’s Boxing Day win over West Ham meant City began Wednesday’s match eight points adrift of the leaders, while Pep Guardiola’s men had even slipped to third in the table following Newcastle United’s victory at Leicester City.
City showed no sign of nerves in a dominant performance at Elland Road, however, amassing 26 attempts and creating a massive 4.20 xG to their hosts’ 0.59.
Ederson was largely reduced to a watching brief in the visitors’ goal, with Leeds giving him nothing to do aside from their late goal as City cut Arsenal’s lead at the summit.
Erling betters father on historic homecoming
Haaland had already missed two clear opportunities before he converted into an empty net to move onto 19 goals from 14 Premier League appearances – one more than his father managed in 181 games in the competition.
The striker’s second goal of the game then took him to 20 Premier League goals in record time, with the indomitable Norwegian doing so in seven games fewer than previous record holder Kevin Phillips.
Super Jack bounces back
Grealish looked set to endure a frustrating outing after squandering two chances to open the scoring before the break, but the England international recovered from those misses to provide a creative masterclass after the break.
Having failed to assist in any of his first 17 games in all competitions this season, Grealish teed up Haaland twice in quick succession, while only Mahrez (six) and De Bruyne (four) bettered his tally of three chances created.
City host struggling Everton in their final Premier League game of 2022 on Saturday, while Leeds round off the year with a trip to high-flying Newcastle United the same day.
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