Pep Guardiola’s Man City team made it 13 goals in two games after their 7-0 demolition of RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday, of which Haaland has contributed eight.
1. Haaland again proves sixth sense for scoring with hat trick
What Haaland is doing in his first season at Man City has passed the point of ridiculous and has now entered something beyond.
His hat trick against Burnley — all done before being substituted in the 64rd minute — was his sixth of the season. He’s reached 42 goals in his first year in England and has found the net nine times in his last three games, including five against RB Leipzig on Tuesday.
His ability to score goals was demonstrated perfectly with his third against Burnley. Riyad Mahrez slipped the ball out to Phil Foden, whose shot slid across goal and hit the outside post. The penalty area was full of Burnley defenders and City attackers but the ball fell to Haaland, who had drifted towards the back post.
Haaland does this too often for it to be good luck, so it can only be some sort of sixth sense that lets him know where his next goal will come from.
The way his season is going, he was probably disappointed to only score twice in February, but he’s making up for it in March. He could still play another 18 games before the end of the season, but the numbers he is racking up are already beyond believable.
2. Man City cruise through “defining” week with treble in sights
A week ago, Guardiola said games against Crystal Palace (Premier League), RB Leipzig (Champions League) and Burnley (FA Cup) in the space of eights days before the international break could define the season: “We have three games, each in a different competition, that will define our season,” Guardiola said then. “… They will define what we want to do or are able to do for the rest of the season.”
Well, the Man City manager couldn’t have asked for much more. Three wins from three, 14 goals scored and none conceded have positioned City perfectly to challenge for all three trophies once club games resume after the break.
Guardiola’s team haven’t always seemed at their best this season, but they’re still second in the league, into the quarterfinals of the Champions League and into the semifinals of the FA Cup, leaving a chance they could match Manchester United‘s famous treble from 1999.
April’s fixture list is likely to decide how close they get. City play Liverpool and leaders Arsenal in the Premier League, face a two-legged Champions League quarterfinal with Bayern Munich and an FA Cup semifinal all before the start of May.
If they can come through the month unscathed, Man City’s treble will be well and truly on. Get ready for another crucial run of matches, Pep!
3. Burnley get harsh lesson from Premier League’s best
Burnley are 13 points clear at the top of the Championship and three wins away from securing a return to the Premier League, but they got a brutal lesson in what life can be like against the top-flight’s best teams.
Burnley were the better team for 30 minutes and, despite having just 20% possession, they managed to fashion the only two shots on target. Nathan Tella had one effort saved by Stefan Ortega and was only denied the chance to go clean through by a superb challenge from Ruben Dias.
But just as the 6,000 travelling fans began to believe they might be able to cause a shock at the Etihad, Haaland was presented with his first two chances and, just like that, it was 2-0 to Man City and the game was all but over.
Of course, Burnley’s aim in the Premier League next season won’t be to compete with the likes of Man City and Haaland, only to finish anywhere above 18th and stay in the division.
They’ve blitzed the Championship in Kompany’s first campaign in charge, losing only two games, but this was a harsh reminder about how big a step up the Premier League has become and it snapped an 18-game unbeaten streak for Burnley.
Best and worst performers
Best: Erling Haaland, Manchester City
The Norwegian striker has reached 42 goals for the season after another hat trick against Burnley, his second in five days.
Best: Phil Foden, Manchester City
He took some rough treatment from Burnley but he still made Haaland’s second and third goals.
Best: Julian Alvarez, Manchester City
Playing in an almost withdrawn No. 8 role for most of the game, he scored twice and got one assist.
Worst: Johann Gudmundsson, Burnley
The forward didn’t have an impact in the first half and was substituted at half-time with City leading 2-0.
Worst: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Burnley
He had a tough assignment in goal but should have done better with a couple of Man City’s goals.
Worst: Stefan Ortega, Manchester City
The goalkeeper’s kicking got City into some trouble early on, especially with passes into the midfield to Rico Lewis.
Highlights and notable moments
Erling Haaland doesn’t miss — well, he doesn’t miss that much. He scored twice in the first half, three minutes apart.
In fact, as of halftime against Burnley, Haaland had scored seven goals in his previous 31 touches on the ball.
HAALAND TWO GOALS IN THREE MINUTES 🔥 pic.twitter.com/OBXIIakizR
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 18, 2023
Haaland scored another for good measure to earn the hat trick, because of course he did.
With that, Haaland now sits on six hat tricks this season. No other players in Europe has more than two.
ERLING HAALAND IS PUTTING UP VIDEO GAME NUMBERS 😳 pic.twitter.com/plNCU191nL
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 18, 2023
After the match: What the managers and players said
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland scoring another hat trick: “This guy will have a problem in the future — people expect every game he scores three or four goals, and this isn’t going to happen. People have to say a little bit, I know he doesn’t care — he’s so positive in his life, he’s optimistic, he never complains, always looks himself. As much as we play good he’s going to score. The target numbers I don’t know. We play like this, Erling will score goals.”
Burnley manager Vincent Kompany on the result: “The only thing I can say is that [the loss] takes nothing away from what the lads have done so far. It’s been a really good experience. As much as it annoys me, I think there are a lot of positives to get out of the first half. Afterwards we just came up against the better side.”
Kompany on Haaland: “My defenders are quick, all of them. As an experienced defender I know exactly where he’s going, but he’s that quick. Good strikers make it seem like every rebound lands at their feet, and he’s one of them.”
Kompany on his reception from Man City supporters: “When it actually happens it still takes you by surprise. I can only be grateful. I was pleased to bring all those fans across from Burnley and honoured to receive such a warm welcome from the City fans.”
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)
Manchester City reach the FA Cup semifinals for the fifth consecutive season, which ties record for most consecutive FA Cup semifinal appearances.
Erling Haaland has now scored in every top-flight club competition he’s played in except the Community Shield, which he’s only appeared in once.
As of his third goal of the day, Haaland had scored eight goals with his previous 40 touches on the ball.
Haaland has scored six hat tricks this season in all competitions. No other player from Europe’s top five leagues has more than two hat tricks this season.
With the loss, Burnley had an 18-game unbeaten streak in all competitions snapped. It was their first loss since Dec. 21 vs. Manchester United in the Carabao Cup.
Manchester City: Premier League action resumes for Man City as they host Liverpool on Saturday, April 1. Then, Man City head to Southampton on April 8.
Burnley FC: The Clarets turn their focus back to the EFL Championship when they host Sunderland on Friday, March 31.