Player ratings as Haaland hat-trick helps champions to victory

Three goals from Erling Haaland helped Manchester City to their second win in four days, dispatching Wolves with ease on Sunday afternoon.

The visitors were blunt throughout and attempted to defend their way to a result, but came unstuck and left the Etihad Stadium without anything to show for their efforts.

A feisty and fiery opening 15 minutes saw two Wolves players and manager Julen Lopetegui all pick up bookings from referee David Coote, who was in no mood to entertain the visitors’ continued protestations regarding 50-50 decisions.

The first half chance of the game soon followed this much-interrupted period, with Haaland forcing Jose Sa into a low save with a shot from around 12 yards.

Sa was again called into action when Jack Grealish let fly from distance, calmly palming his effort aside.

Kevin De Bruyne very nearly picked the lock when he tried to find Haaland with a through ball between the centre-backs, but Nathan Collins and Max Kilman were able to divert it away from danger just in time.

Up next to try their luck was Rodri, who had a pop from a similar distance to Grealish’s earlier chance, with this shot whistling inches over the crossbar.

The deadlock was finally broken at the back end of the first half, and Haaland was the man to grab the opening goal. Riyad Mahrez pulled the ball back for De Bruyne to cross, and the Norwegian rose highest to head home.

Nathan Collins was fortunate not to have given away a penalty when he clearly clipped Grealish in the penalty area, with VAR confusingly deciding not to send the referee over to the monitor.

The Irishman was again a thorn in Grealish’s side when he managed to head a goal-bound shot from the winger off the line, before he then cleared Ilkay Gundogan’s cross with Haaland waiting to tap it in.

Julen Lopetegui made three changes at the break, replacing all three of his forwards in the hope of finding a spark.

But Wolves conceded a penalty at the beginning of the second half, with Ruben Neves clipping Gundogan’s heels. Haaland slotted the spot kick straight down the middle to double City’s advantage.

The home crowd thought Mahrez had added a third when he met a deep cross from Grealish, but he had in fact only found the side netting.

But they didn’t have to wait too long for that third goal to arrive. Sa gifted the ball to Mahrez on a platter, and he unselfishly squared for Haaland to secure his hat-trick – his fourth in the Premier League already.

Debutant Pablo Sarabia wanted Nathan Ake to be punished for a handball inside the penalty area after the Dutchman blocked his shot, but Wolves were denied a spot kick of their own.

A fourth City goal was ruled out for offside as Mahrez was offside when De Bruyne sent him racing through to dink Sa and Lopetegui’s men were let off the hook.

Gundogan should have found the net following a clever cross from Bernardo Silva, but the German’s header was wayward and Wolves’ blushes were spared.

Daniel Podence dragged a shot from close range just wide late on as Wolves tried but failed to find a consolation late on.

City are now two points behind Arsenal in the Premier League table, but the Gunners have two games in hand on the champions – they take on Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium later on Sunday.

Erling Haaland

Superb / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

GK: Ederson – 6/10 – Had nothing to do.

RB: Rico Lewis – 5/10 – Tucked into midfield but was a little sloppier in possession today. Withdrawn at the break.

CB: John Stones – 7/10 – Played with real confidence in his passing from the back.

CB: Manuel Akanji – 7/10 – Stepped up with ease to snuffle Wolves’ forays into City’s half.

LB: Aymeric Laporte – 6/10 – Tucked in as a third centre-back in the first half before Ake’s introduction.

DM: Rodri – 7/10 – Harshly booked early on but that didn’t change his approach to the midfield battle, easily gobbling up his Wolves counterparts.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 7/10 – Not as precise or as energetic today but De Bruyne was still a potent weapon in attack.

CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 8/10 – Seemed to win every second ball and was a pain in Wolves’ backside the entire afternoon.

RW: Riyad Mahrez – 8/10 – Was able to play his own game at a slower pace than in Thursday’s win against Tottenham because of Haaland’s brilliance, but still brought great quality to City’s attack.

CF: Erling Haaland – 10/10 – Now on 25 Premier League goals this season – two more than the tallies Son Heung-min and Mohamed Salah registered last year to win the Golden Boot.

LW: Jack Grealish – 7/10 – Played with emphasis and directness. A much-needed performance.

Substitutes

Nathan Ake (46′ for Lewis) – 7/10 – Set Gundogan racing away to win the penalty soon after being brought on.

Julian Alvarez (60′ for Haaland) – 6/10

Kalvin Phillips (77′ for Rodri) – N/A

Bernardo Silva (77′ for De Bruyne) – N/A

Cole Palmer (81′ for Mahrez) – N/A

Manager

Pep Guardiola – 9/10 – His comments in midweek may have lit a fire in City that they will need in order to catch Arsenal.

David Coote

Wolves were poor / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

GK: Jose Sa – 3/10 – Couldn’t blame him for much until he just handed City their third goal on a platter.

RB: Nelson Semedo – 4/10 – Eaten up by Grealish, which is saying something.

CB: Nathan Collins – 5/10 – Lucky not to have given away a penalty in the first half. Was alright after that and not the reason Wolves were hammered.

CB: Max Kilman – 5/10 – Similarly fine on an individual level.

LB: Hugo Bueno – 4/10 – Found it tough to stay afloat against such a stacked City attack.

CM: Mario Lemina – 5/10 – Played without fear and looked to play forward but found few options.

CM: Ruben Neves – 3/10 – Conceding a penalty so early into the second half killed hope of a comeback.

CM: Matheus Nunes – 4/10 – Struggled to get into the game.

RW: Adama Traore – 5/10 – Looked lively in patches of his 45 minute display.

CF: Raul Jimenez – 3/10 – Completely anonymous and the most deserving of hooking at half-time.

LW: Hwang Hee-chan – 4/10 – Barely involved at all and was taken off at the break.

Substitutes

Joao Moutinho (46′ for Hwang) – 4/10 – His experience didn’t prove that useful.

Pablo Sarabia (46′ for Traore) – 5/10 – At least tried to make things happen, if to little avail.

Matheus Cunha (46′ for Jimenez) – 5/10 – Ditto. Probably should have started over Jimenez.

Daniel Podence (67′ for Lemina) – 5/10

Rayan Ait-Nouri (81′ for Bueno) – N/A

Manager

Julen Lopetegui – 4/10 – Wolves largely played without fear despite showing some real courage in the opening stages. Disappointing.

Player of the Match – Erling Haaland

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *