Manchester City vs Crystal Palace: Haaland hat trick seals incredible comeback win

Manchester-City

Erling Haaland struck a second-half hat-trick as Manchester City returned from two goals to beat Crystal Palace 4-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Haaland, who averaged almost a goal per game in the Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund before his move to City in June, has now scored six times in his opening four league matches for Pep Guardiola’s side.

The win moves City to the top of the table, level on 10 points with Brighton & Hove Albion. Palace is 13th with four points from their opening four games.

Haaland was given a standing ovation when he was substituted six minutes from the end, but at halftime, City was staring at a possible repeat of their 2-0 home loss to Palace last season.

An own goal from John Stones in the fourth minute put Patrick Vieira’s side ahead, and then the visitors doubled their lead when an unmarked Joachim Andersen powered in a header from an Eberechi Eze corner in the 21st minute.

City struggled to find their fluency, but the inevitable comeback started in the 53rd when Bernardo Silva cut in from the right. His low shot took a slight deflection and beat goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Guardiola then made a double substitution and moved Phil Foden to the left back, and within a minute, he had delivered a pinpoint cross which Haaland met with a fine glancing header.

The striker turned the ball in from close range after a clever move inspired by Silva and saved the best for last — showing Ilkay Gundogan the pass he wanted to run onto and then holding off Joel Ward as he fired into the bottom corner.

Erling Haaland celebrates his second goal for Manchester City against Crystal Palace. Nigel Roddis / AFP
“It was a proud moment for my family, and I’m so happy. Amazing feeling to score a hat-trick,” Haaland said.

“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”.

Haaland said it was important that City did not panic after Palace’s early goals.

“It’s a mentality that we trust each other and know the chances will come. It’s about keeping going. In the end, we scored four goals, which is excellent.

“It’s a warning that we must improve, train hard, and develop. When we play at home, we shouldn’t concede early goals. It’s about working harder,” he said.

What we learned from Manchester City vs Crystal Palace

City making basic defensive errors: They conceded three at Newcastle last weekend and two against Palace on Saturday, and they have just been sloppy. The needless mistakes need to be cut out, and Pep Guardiola will probably focus on that after the game. Palace didn’t have much of the ball, but scoring from their first (and only) two chances isn’t good enough defensively from the reigning champs as they allowed crosses into the box to cause unnecessary chaos.

Peak Haaland drags City to win: A header, tap in and a decisive turn and finish. It was peak Erling Haaland, which is why Manchester City signed him this summer. When City needed their new star striker to stand tall, he answered that bat call with minimum fuss. He bullied Palace like the honey monster and made the Etihad Stadium seem like his backyard. Haaland did all of this with the help of his slick City teammates, but in the past, they may have only drawn this game. Haaland’s clinical edge is something they haven’t had since Sergio Aguero left, and now it gives them an even more significant boost in their push to win it all.

Palace miss talisman Zaha: Palace somehow found themselves in a 2-0 lead, and had they had Wilfried Zaha fit and available, this could have been a very different outcome. Palace couldn’t keep the ball and was put under constant pressure. They held out until the 53rd minute before City scored but had Zaha been around, they would have found him up top, and he would have taken the pressure off them.

Tactical focus

It was a dominant win for City in the end. The fact that Palace was 2-0 up early meant that City had even more of the ball than usual, as Patrick Vieira’s side sat back and tried to hold on to their lead. Good luck with that. The city did struggle to create chances in the first half, but the rest of the game saw Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden, and Bernardo Silva dictate the tempo (City had 75 percent possession), and Erling Haaland was on hand to finish off the chances created for him.

Stars of the show

Erling Haaland: A brilliant hat trick that showcased exactly how he can score goals of all types. His first of many trebles in a City shirt.

Kevin de Bruyne: Dragged City to the victory as he was relentless in the second half and urged his teammates to pour forward repeatedly.

What’s next?

City host Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, Aug. 31, while Palace host Brentford on Tuesday, Aug. 30

Key storylines & star players

Three games into his Manchester City career, Haaland has three goals and one assist to his name, with Kevin De Bruyne off to a similarly red-hot start (one goal and three assists). After keeping back-to-back clean sheets to start the season, it was shocking to see Man City concede three goals (in 26 minutes, no less), regardless of the opponent. Injuries at center back are a concern, with Aymeric Laporte expected to miss a few more weeks and Nathan Ake battling the groin injury he suffered in the 21 minutes against Newcastle. Ruben Dias and John Stones are the last two remaining central defenders at Guardiola’s disposal.

As for Palace, results have steadily improved through three weeks (loss, draw, win) as Patrick Vieira’s side finds its footing and navigates a complex starting series of fixtures. After Saturday, the Eagles will have already played half of the big-six sides after just four weeks, with tricky challenges against Brentford and Newcastle preceding a visit from Manchester United to round out their first seven games. They’ll be battled-tested and -hardened when the fixtures ease up sometime in October. Wilfried Zaha leads the way with three of the side’s four goals this season, while the youngsters in midfield and defense continue their rapid development against top-level competition.

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup

OUT: Aymeric Laporte (knee), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Jack Grealish (knee), Nathan Ake (groin)

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