Manchester City found themselves 2-0 down to Crystal Palace at The Etihad, before summer signing Erling Haaland took centre stage with a brilliant second-half treble to help them win 4-2
Erling Haaland proclaimed ‘this is why I’m here’ after he bailed out Manchester City with a brilliant, quickfire hat-trick in their 4-2 win over Crystal Palace.
After winning the Premier League four times in the last five seasons, there were few improvements Pep Guardiola could make to his dominant side. But after winning the title without a recognised striker last term, the arrival of the prolific Haaland was a daunting one for their top-flight rivals.
Having found the net three times in his first three league games, the home clash with Crystal Palace represented his first seminal moment in a sky blue shirt. And it was on an afternoon where his impact was so desperately needed.
Patrick Vieira’s Palace have previous at the Etihad, having upset the odds to win in Manchester last term. They were still rank outsiders this time around however, but looked primed to spring another massive shock as they ran out into a 2-0 lead.
Their opener came after an Eberechi Eze free-kick was deflected in via Kyle Walker and John Stones, before the same player found Joachim Andersen to double their lead after 21 minutes.
But City didn’t blink. After all, this is the fourth time in their last six league matches that they’ve surrendered such a deficit. On three of those occasions they hadn’t tasted defeat and they weren’t to be denied this time around.
It was Bernardo Silva – the man linked so heavily with Barcelona – who got the comeback underway, scoring less than 10 minutes after the break. But in a tantalising glimpse into City’s future, it was their Norwegian striker who grabbed centre stage, and the headlines.
In the space of 19 minutes Haaland put City back on level terms, in front and ultimately into a winning position they would not surrender. “Really good feeling. A proud moment for me and my family. We keep going. These games are why I’m here – to turn things around when there are difficult times,” he explained after his match-winning intervention.
“In the end it was about small adjustments. We were almost there sometimes in the first half so it was about getting it done. This is what we do. It’s a good feeling. It’s really important to have this kind of mentality and we should get it even more. There is more we can do on set-pieces. We have to keep working hard.”
He added: “It’s about trying to continue what we are doing. It was about small adjustments and we did that and got results. We had to listen to the manager. It’s a mentality that we trust each other and we know the chances will come. It’s about keeping going. In the end we scored four goals and that’s a really good thing.
“It’s a warning that we have to become better, training hard and develop. When we play at home we shouldn’t concede early goals. It’s about working harder.”
Haaland became just the fourth player after Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero and Mick Quinn to score six times in their first four Premier League appearances, with Guardiola admitting these are the types of afternoons that vindicate their £50million outlay.
“Definitely for this type of game,” he said when asked if this is why he was signed. “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.”