Famed for being a tough league to adapt to, Erling Haaland is taking to the Premier League like a duck to water.
After scoring his first hat-trick for Manchester City at the weekend – in its 4-2 win over Crystal Palace – having joined from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, Haaland repeated the feat on Wednesday night.
It took the Norwegian striker just 26 minutes between his first and third goal in the first half to complete the feat, as City romped to a 6-0 win over newly-promoted Nottingham Forest at the Etihad Stadium.
It means that Haaland has now scored a remarkable nine goals in his first five Premier League appearances, breaking the previous record of eight set by Mick Quinn and City’s all-time top goalscorer, Sergio Agüero.
Afterwards, Haaland hailed his teammates and the impact they’ve had on his game, calling the team’s performance “amazing.”
“It was about keep doing what we did in the second half against Crystal Palace,” he said.
“Play, play, play and we knew we’d get the chances and we did that. It was nice. It’s been good so far, I’m not complaining!
“I try to listen as much as I can to Pep [Guardiola] and the boys. They’re amazing footballers, without them, I can’t score goals. It’s about finding the chemistry and to listen to Guardiola.
“It’s fantastic. That’s why I came here. We play so good, we find each other, it’s going to be nice.”
After the game, manager Pep Guardiola was asked if Haaland could break Agüero’s club record of 260 goals.
“Sergio is the legend. Nobody can break the position in the hearts of City fans, scoring the most important goal in the modern history of the club,” Guardiola said.
“Erling has the quality to be there. What Sergio has done is amazing. But Erling has this talent. Hopefully, he can enjoy and score more goals. Knowing him a little bit, I don’t know if he’d be happy breaking records if we didn’t win titles.”
‘This guy is special’
Besides Haaland’s ruthlessness in front of goal, the evening will be remembered for a breakout game for another City forward.
Following Haaland’s quick-fire hat-trick and João Cancelo’s first goal of the season, it became all about Julián Álvarez’s coming out party.
The Argentine forward, making his first Premier League start since joining from River Plate, scored twice against Forest; first, rifling low under goalkeeper Dean Henderson and then smashing home his second in the final few minutes.
After the game, Guardiola was full of praise for his two new additions up front, calling Álvarez “special.”
“I had the feeling that there is not one person in the locker room who is not happy for the two goals (he scored). Erling is highlighted, Erling deserves everything,” Guardiola explained.
“But, from day one, we have seen Julián in the locker room and training. We have an incredible opinion (of him). Our scout in South America – Joan Patsy – told me for a year and a half ago - this guy is special. He has scored a lot of goals in a team like River Plate that have an incredible pressure to win.
“He was educated by Gallardo and now we are enjoying him. Erling is our first No. 9, but in games where teams defend deep, to have the two guys there with an incredible smell to score goals is so important. Julián deserves everything. The work ethic always pays off.
“Julián came from Argentina, but in the first game against Club America, I said this guy will be good for us. We have seen in training how he is doing. In the first half (today), he struggled; the second half was better, and you saw the goals.
“He is so precise. Both he and Erling are incredible strikers. When the ball is around the area, they are incredible finishers.”