MANCHESTER – Unstoppable Erling Haaland smashed through the 40-goal barrier in his first season at Manchester City with a hat-trick in his side’s 6-0 FA Cup quarter-final rout of Burnley on Saturday.
Fresh from his five-goal salvo against RB Leipzig in midweek, the Norwegian forward proved insatiable again to demolish the Championship leaders at the Etihad.
Said City manager Pep Guardiola: “This guy will have a problem in the future – every game he will be expected to score three or four goals and this is not going to happen.
“He doesn’t care because he is so positive, so optimistic, never complains.”
The 22-year-old struck trademark goals in the 32nd and 35th minutes and completed his sixth hat-trick of the season when he converted a rebound to finish the tie just before the hour.
He now has an astonishing 42 goals for City since joining from Borussia Dortmund last June.
Julian Alvarez then struck twice, with a goal by substitute Cole Palmer in between, as City ran riot to make it 13 goals in the week to cruise into the semi-finals.
It proved a chastening day for former City hero Vincent Kompany, who has guided Burnley to the brink of a fast return to the Premier League after last year’s relegation.
Said Kompany: “My players now understand the hard work they have to do.
“We came here 13 points clear at the top of our league and had a good game in the EFL Cup at Old Trafford, but it’s important to remember we are No. 21 in English football, not No. 1.
Haaland is just the sixth player in the Premier League era to score at least 40 goals in all competitions in a season – joining Ruud van Nistelrooy (44), Mohamed Salah (44), Cristiano Ronaldo (42), Andy Cole (41) and Harry Kane (41).
And with City still in three competitions, it surely will not be long before he goes past 50.
“He might get 50 goals, maybe even 60. It’s bonkers,” Premier League joint record goalscorer Alan Shearer said on the BBC.
“Haaland is a beast. He is a goalscoring machine. He lives and breathes goals.”
Haaland was more low-key about his extraordinary statistics.
“It’s been a good couple of last games,” an understated Haaland, who scored his first goals in the FA Cup, told BBC Sport. “7-0 and 6-0 before the international break is impressive and I’m really happy.
“Every goal means a lot to me and every goal for the team means a lot.”
Burnley had actually coped well with City for the opening half an hour and created some decent chances.
But once Haaland sped on to Alvarez’s through pass and touched the ball past Burnley’s onrushing Bailey Peacock-Farrell to break the deadlock the writing was on the wall.
Phil Foden’s low cross set up Haaland’s second goal and his hat-trick goal came after Foden’s effort struck the post.
Alvarez also impressed and he took his goals superbly while youngster Palmer’s goal made it a most satisfying day for a City side who suddenly look back to their best. REUTERS