Erling Haaland’s hat-trick exploits present the Man Metropolis star is poised to smash any goalscoring file

5:44 p.m. ET

  • Rob Dawsoncorrespondent

MANCHESTER, England — If Erling Haaland really is the heir to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, then he’s wasting no time collecting the numbers to prove it.

The odds are we may never see goalscoring like the likes of Ronaldo and Messi during their time in Spain, but Haaland’s start in life at Manchester City has raised the possibility – at least – that we could.

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The Norwegian’s previous record is five games and nine goals after his second hat-trick in five days helped City to a 6-0 win over Nottingham Forest at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. No player has scored more goals in their first five Premier League games and the way Haaland is doing it likely won’t be the last record he breaks this season.

To put his exploits in context, it took Sergio Aguero more than three years and nearly 100 games to score two league hat-tricks for City. Haaland did it in less than a month and only played a full 90 minutes once in that span of time.

“What he did in Norway, Austria and Germany, he’s trying to do here,” said Pep Guardiola afterwards. “The first time he touches the ball, he scores a goal. We knew that. He always scores players up front to score goals.

“He’s strong in all areas but especially around the box, his finishing and work ethic is so great.”

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The concern for the rest of the league is that Guardiola is adamant that Haaland is still settling in, but he has already been remarkably efficient. In 68 minutes against Forest, he touched the ball 16 times but managed four shots, three on target and three goals. He has contributed 105 touches so far this season and averages a goal every 11.6. It’s a scary return so early in his City career.

“So far it’s been good,” said Haaland with a certain understatement. “I’m not complaining. There will be many games, so it’s important to keep going and enjoy as much as possible. Amazing, nothing more to say.”

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With the exception of Ilkay Gundogan, Guardiola is keen that Haaland is still trying to get on the same wavelength as his team-mates, although his physical attributes alone are enough to worry the defence. Just ask Joe Worrall, the 6-foot-3 Forest centre-back who was shaken off with a lift from Haaland’s right arm as he jabbed in City’s first goal. Worrall has spent almost his entire career in the Championship, which is considered a physical league, but even he looked shocked as he lay in a heap on the ground while Haaland solemnly drove away.

Haaland scored three more goals in an easy Man City win to show the rest of the football world that he will jeopardize many goal records before his time at Man City is up. Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

The second goal was a tap-in – just his third touch of the evening – and the third a thundering header down the goal-line as he got up far higher than two yellow-jersey defenders. A perfect hat trick – left foot, right foot and header – in 38 minutes. His hat-trick against Crystal Palace on Saturday lasted just 19 minutes.

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Forest manager Steve Cooper summed it up simply by saying that Haaland “got the lot”.

Haaland has already scored more goals than Harry Kane in August and the England international is in his 11th season in the Premier League. Mohamed Salah’s competitive record of 32 goals in a 38-game season in 2017-18 already feels threatened. For the record: Salah started the season with three goals in his first five games; Haaland has a six-goal lead, although Guardiola believes his No. 9 will only measure success in silverware this season.

“I think he wants to win the titles,” he said. “Knowing him a bit, I don’t know if he would be happy about breaking records if we didn’t win trophies. If we play well, he’ll have more chances.”

“I know Erling is happy to score goals but he wants to win. If he’s breaking records but we don’t win, he won’t be happy.”

The challenge for Haaland is consistency, something Ronaldo and Messi mastered at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. In nine years at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo scored an incredible 450 goals in 438 games. Messi played 13 consecutive seasons at Barcelona between 2008 and 2021, scoring at least 30 goals. He scored at least 40 goals each season between 2009 and 2019.

The numbers are intriguing and while Haaland, still only 22, is far from matching those feats, it’s the company he threatens to keep. As Messi and Ronaldo draw to a close as their reigns as Europe’s top scorers, Haaland is well placed to take over if he continues at this pace.

Alvarez also impressed up front with Haaland, scoring two goals of his own in the second half. Lynne Cameron – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

Man City reviews (by Liam Wheeler)

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players featured after 70 minutes receive no rating)

GK Ederson, 6 – found himself with an early touch, albeit 20 yards from his own goal, after a sloppy pass pushed City back. He had to get back on his feet when Rodri delivered another ball a little too hard to the City goalkeeper. Beyond that, he had little else to do.

DF Kyle Walker, 7 – Provided plenty of width in the early stages but left Renan Lodi unmarked at the back post when the visitors first threatened. In addition, he felt much more comfortable and he showed his experience to win Emmanuel Dennis’ run.

DF John Stones, 8 – Set up Haaland’s record-breaking third with a perfect header over the goal. Previously, he thought he had scored from Haaland’s serve, but the England defender was half a meter offside.

DF Ruben Dias, 7 – A comfortable night for the defender. He had practically nothing to do and will be more than happy to record another goal against his name.

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DF Joao Cancelo, 8 – Forced the corner that led to the breakthrough after a clean exchange with Phil Foden, and he was also involved in City’s third with a nice detachment from the outside of the boot. Made it 4-0 with Thunder Clap, who ended up defeating Henderson.

MF Bernardo Silva, 9 – A couple of early swell runs from the midfielder, who vaulted beautifully past Lodi before losing his footing in the box. A superb performance from the 28-year-old, who had a big hand in City’s second to score Cancelo to make it 4-0.

MF Rodri, 7 — Typically calm and composed in the middle, shows his experience stopping Brennan Johnson’s run, who was trying to engage the afterburners. Substituted after the break as Guardiola tried to rest his legs for another day.

MF Ilkay Gundogan, 7 – An early swing and miss from the Germany international whose erratic shot went wide of goal and he started the second half in a similar fashion. Caused problems with some good deliveries of set pieces that faltered Forest defenders.

FW Julian Alvarez, 9 – A diligent performance from the young forward who hit the post late in the first half before opening his Premier Eagle account after the break and deftly finding the bottom corner before batting a stunning second home late .

FW Erling Haaland, 10 – Insert endless superlatives here. Nine goals in five games now for the forward, who started with his first touch and completed a remarkable first-half hat-trick with a powerful leap to convert Stones’ header back over the goal.

FW Phil Foden, 9 – Haaland might make the headlines but the Norwegian tall must love playing with this man who was involved in all three of his goals, albeit via a tackle for the second. Another great display.


DF Sergio Gómez, 7 – Replaced Cancelo in the 69th minute. Denied Neco Williams with a good block as the visitors chased consolation goals and generally looked good going forward.

DF Rico Lewis, NR – Replaced Stones in the 74th minute. A second Premier League appearance for the 17-year-old who represented good value for his performance with some decent challenges.

MF Cole Palmer, 6 – replaced Rodri in the 55th minute. The youngster also held his own when City flatly refused to slow down with the game already over and dusted.

MF Kevin De Bruyne, 6 – Substituted for man of the match Haaland in the 69th minute. I singled out Mahrez’s chest with a prominent switch on the right, and then Gomez’s boot with another on the left. Smart later denied by Dean Henderson.

FW Riyad Mahrez, 6 – replaced Foden in the 55th minute. Should have made it 6-0 but he just missed after creating a golden opportunity with a smart dart in the back.

Manager Pep Guardiola, 8 – Two changes from the City boss: Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez were benched while the Spaniard gave some more valuable minutes to some of City’s up-and-coming young talents. Thank God he didn’t rest Haaland.

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