MANCHESTER, England (AP)Erling Haaland scored his fourth Premier League hat trick of the season to lead Manchester City to a 3-0 win over Wolverhampton as Pep Guardiola’s midweek message got through to the champions on Sunday.
The Norway striker’s three-goal burst in a 14-minute spell either side of halftime lifted him to 25 for the season. That is more than any player managed last season, when Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min shared the Golden Boot with 23 goals.
The quickest a player had previously scored four hat tricks in the Premier League was former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, in 65 appearances. It has taken Haaland just 19 matches to achieve the feat as he continues to take English soccer by storm in his first season playing in the country of his birth.
Guardiola had delivered a rocket to his players and the club’s fans after the 4-2 comeback win over Tottenham on Thursday, saying they lacked the passion and desire to fuel second-place City’s bid to claw back its deficit to Arsenal that stood at five points at kickoff Sunday.
The crowd was more in voice at Etihad Stadium this time and City’s performance seemed more energetic, albeit against an opponent battling relegation.
Haaland opened the scoring by heading home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 40th minute, just as City was starting to create chances at will.
The wave of attacks continued after the break and Ilkay Gundogan was fouled in the area by Ruben Neves to give Haaland the chance to add a second from the penalty spot. He sent goalkeeper Jose Sa the wrong way in the 50th.
Sa then sloppily gave the ball away to Riyad Mahrez as he tried to play out from the back. Mahrez could have shot himself but chose to slip a short pass to Haaland, who stroked in a calm finish to complete his hat trick. His others also came at the Etihad, against Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United in successive home league games.
Haaland was denied the chance to add to his tally because he was substituted in the 61st minute to a standing ovation.
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