Haaland scores hat-trick as Manchester City hit Nottingham Forest for six | Premier League

Who will bet against Erling Haaland obliterating Sergio Agüero’s club‑record 260 strikes for Manchester City if this ruthless goalscorer continues at the current rate?

Here was the centre-forward’s second hat‑trick in five days to make it nine goals in five matches: one more than the brilliant Argentinian returned in the same number during his start in City livery. Agüero took 390 appearances to reach his final tally and Haaland could eclipse this breathtaking ratio, too.

A delighted Pep Guardiola said: “Sergio is the legend. Nobody can break the position in the hearts of City fans, scoring the most important goal in the modern history of the club. Erling has the quality to be there. What Sergio has done is amazing. But Erling has this talent. Hopefully he can enjoy and score more goals.

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

Of Haaland and Julián Álvarez, who struck two, Guardiola added: “These two are so young, that I have the feeling 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, frightening dimension to City. Nottingham Forest, fielding seven of Steve Cooper’s plethora of new additions, ended humbled by the lesson their hosts gave.

Bernardo Silva’s mazy run gave Scott McKenna a first test: the Forest defender, bamboozled momentarily, flipped the ball out for a corner. This was zipped to Álvarez, making his full debut, and Forest scrambled away.

The visitors were already under siege and a fourth Ilkay Gündogan corner – from the left – was tapped short to Phil Foden, who dropped a deft lob into the area. Ryan Yates let it bounce, Dean Henderson was a statue on his line, Joe Worrall could not hold off Haaland and the Norwegian finished.

Forest’s initial riposte was to maraud downfield in a move that had Renan Lodi, donning Forest colours for the first time, missing a point‑blank header. City are tough enough without the type of error Henderson committed to hand them a second. The goalkeeper punted a regulation clearance to Silva, who fed Álvarez: the Argentinian recycled the ball to Gündogan, who in turn found Haaland.

A dizzying sequence now involved Foden and when he crossed there was the City No 9 to double the lead. All of this without City’s pre‑eminent talent, Kevin De Bruyne, the Belgian a spectator from the bench. What he saw was a team in total control who revelled in a game of supreme keep-ball that toyed with their guests and carried the menace of a third. It arrived via Haaland whose hat-trick followed a John Stones leap that nodded the ball on to his head: at close range this 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 Álvarez hitting a low shot off Henderson’s right post before Forest scuttled off, dazed and confused. Cooper’s side were on their way to a serious beating.

The sight of Haaland galloping into channels to collect possession and pull defenders around was a sure sign that he and City desired more. So, they struck a fourth. Again Forest were ponderous: Silva danced inside and swept a ball to João Cancelo who had an age to set himself and then rifle into the top corner from 20 yards. A further gauge beyond the scoreline of City 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 drew applause from his manager for a show of strength by the technical area, moments later popping a cross in that demanded a finish. As the hour passed, City’s possession percentage stood at 77: it felt closer to 100 due to the relentless battering they gave their bewildered opponents as Álvarez, a whir of energy throughout, made it 5-0 with a pure swing of his right boot that went through the hapless Henderson.

When Haaland wandered off on 68 minutes a raucous roar was his reward. To see the 6ft 3in predator retreating might have cheered Forest a little, except De Bruyne was his replacement. For the closing phase, Sergio Gómez, 21, and the 17‑year‑old Rico Lewis were each given a second City appearance. There was zero let‑up: Álvarez grabbed a second with minutes left.

City’s 19 goals is their most at this stage of a league campaign. Cooper said afterwards: “An incredible team that play an incredible way.”

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