Erling Haaland scored his fourth Manchester City hat-trick and took his goal tally for the season to 31 in all competitions as relegation-threated Wolves were swept aside by Pep Guardiola’s men.
By his own incredibly high standards, Haaland had been going through a barren spell.
But after ending a three-game drought against Tottenham on Thursday, the Norwegian demolished Wolves in a 12-minute spell either side of half-time.
Haaland initially rose to head home Kevin de Bruyne’s cross to put the hosts ahead at the break.
He then drove home a penalty after Ilkay Gundogan had been fouled by Wolves skipper Ruben Neves, before sweeping home his third after Jose Sa’s pass out of his six-yard box went straight to Riyad Mahrez.
Haaland has now scored 25 goals in City’s first 20 Premier League games. That is five more than Luis Suarez managed in 2013-14, the previous highest figure at this stage in the season.
The Norwegian striker’s current total would have been enough to earn him the Golden Boot in more than half of the 30 campaigns since the English top flight was renamed in 1992.
He has also already scored as many Premier League hat-tricks as Mo Salah, and a third of Sergio Aguero’s record 12, which the Argentine achieved across his magnificent decade with City.
Only Alan Shearer has scored more Premier League hat-tricks in a single season, with five.
Haaland driving City on
When Guardiola came out with his extraordinary rant after the win over Tottenham, he spoke about the difficulty of maintaining drive and determination when you are so used to winning.
That is why Haaland is so important to this team.
The Norwegian’s last league title was three years ago in Austria. His last trophy was the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund in 2021.
If the idea of a fifth championship in six seasons fails to motivate some City players, Haaland is not among them, and his thirst for goals could be a telling factor as the second half of this season unfolds.
Guardiola saw no point in pushing the striker, and replaced him with World Cup winner Julian Alvarez after an hour.
More good news for City is that Jack Grealish also seems to be finding more consistency.
His teasing advances from the left are more reminiscent of his Aston Villa days and would have brought him a first-half goal had Sa not made one superb save and Nathan Collins not been in the right place at the right time to head another effort off the line.
Mahrez had an effort ruled out for offside, after which City cruised home and Haaland was able to take the acclaim of the home fans at the end.
Lopetegui’s Wolves stall
This was the first significant setback for Julen Lopetegui since he replaced Bruno Lage as Wolves boss during the World Cup.
If there is comfort for the former Spain and Real Madrid coach, it comes from the knowledge there are not many more demanding tests than this, even if his side only remain outside the relegation zone on goal difference.
The arrival of Craig Dawson for £3.3m from West Ham should help shore up a hesitant defence, while a first start for Mario Lemina here, plus a debut for Pablo Sarabia, further creates a team Lopetegui can work with – especially if his other transfer window target, Flamengo’s Joao Gomes, can be kept out of Lyon’s clutches.
He clearly wants more width from Wolves’ passing, although he does have a week to work on that, with his side not involved in the FA Cup fourth round next weekend.
February will then be a crucial month, with Wolves taking on two sides presently below them, Southampton and Bournemouth, in successive weeks.
Certainly no-one could accuse Lopetegui of not being invested in his job. He was booked along with Neves for arguing over an incident when City’s Rico Lewis appeared to bring down Hwang Hee-chan, when the South Korean was about to set off on a long run towards to City goal before Haaland changed the direction of the contest.
- 16RodriBooked at 25minsSubstituted forPhillipsat 77′minutes
- 17De BruyneSubstituted forBernardo Silvaat 77′minutes
- 82LewisSubstituted forAkéat 45′minutes
- 9HaalandSubstituted forÁlvarezat 61′minutes
- 26MahrezSubstituted forPalmerat 81′minutes
- 3Rúben Dias
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 22Nélson Semedo
- 23KilmanBooked at 10mins
- 64BuenoSubstituted forAït-Nouriat 81′minutes
- 5LeminaBooked at 13minsSubstituted forPodenceat 67′minutes
- 37TraoréSubstituted forSarabiaat 45′minutes
- 9JiménezSubstituted forSantos Carneiro Da Cunhaat 45′minutes
- 11Hwang Hee-chanSubstituted forJoão Moutinhoat 45′minutes
- 12Santos Carneiro Da Cunha
- 19Castro Otto
- 28João Moutinho
- 29Diego Costa
- David Coote
Match ends, Manchester City 3, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0.
Second Half ends, Manchester City 3, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0.
Attempt blocked. Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Daniel Podence.
Foul by Manuel Akanji (Manchester City).
Matheus Cunha (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Nathan Aké.
Foul by Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City).
Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Maximilian Kilman (Wolverhampton Wanderers) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by João Moutinho with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Jack Grealish.
Foul by Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City).
Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Pablo Sarabia (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Daniel Podence.
John Stones (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Attempt missed. Daniel Podence (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.
Attempt blocked. Daniel Podence (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Matheus Cunha.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rayan Aït-Nouri replaces Hugo Bueno.
Substitution, Manchester City. Cole Palmer replaces Riyad Mahrez.
Attempt missed. Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) header from very close range is just a bit too high. Assisted by Bernardo Silva with a cross.
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