Haaland’s 19-minute Manchester City hat-trick puts out Crystal Palace’s fire

Erling Haaland might have been a bargain even at £100m but to cost Manchester City just north of £50m is a faintly ridiculous price in the definitely ridiculous inflated transfer market. The striker scored a scintillating 19-minute hat-trick that featured the equaliser and goals that sealed victory as the champions came from two behind for a fourth time in their past six competitive games.

The Norwegian’s third was greeted by a jig of jubilation from Pep Guardiola and delirium from a home crowd witnessing Haaland’s first City strikes at the Etihad and crowned a superb fightback initiated when Bernardo Silva led a second-half charge by pulling one back.

Guardiola said: “What impressed me was Erling’s body language when we were 2-0 down – still encouraging his mates. He doesn’t run away from the game. How many games he has in his career and goals – astonishing.”

These three make it six in four Premier League outings. Yet before City had managed any Crystal Palace had beaten Ederson for a third time – to follow John Stones’s own-goal and Joachim Andersen’s header. The City goalkeeper rolled the ball straight to Jordan Ayew via a touch from Odsonne Édouard and Ayew found the net. While the referee, Darren England, awarded a foul – maybe against a high leg from Édouard – VAR, at least, might have intervened as the goal appeared legitimate. Patrick Vieira was asked why he did not complain but said he did not see it clearly at the time and lacked access to a replay.

After three minutes he and his players had been ecstatic when Eberechi Eze dropped a free-kick into the area that ricocheted off Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker and Stones before going in.

City’s riposte was a phase of keep-ball that featured Walker as an inverted full-back and Haaland leaping to misdirect a header from a corner. The champions pressed hard on the gas.

Referee England waved away a handball shout in Palace’s area, then João Cancelo found Riyad Mahrez, with the Algerian then nodding towards Haaland who knocked Marc Guéhi over in front of goal. The referee did award a foul for this and home boos ensued as Palace’s goalkeeper dawdled over the restart.

When his team took the next one they struck once more, making it two goals from two Eze set pieces: he swung in a corner from the right and Walker and Haaland each allowed Andersen to rise freely to head in. At this stage City were toothless and required cooler heads than the one Haaland showed when booting Andersen’s.

Wilfried Zaha’s absence from the team-sheet due to a knee problem had ruled out a repeat act of him as the Palace wrecking-ball that he proved in last season’s 2-0 victory here when the forward scored the opener, caused Aymeric Laporte to be sent off, and engineered the second.

Eze, though, was a reasonable deputy, troubling City’s backline when Palace used the same breakaway tactics. Going the other way, Mahrez turned on extra thrust, skipped past Tyrick Mitchell and crossed from the right: Vicente Guaita stuck a glove on the ball and it eluded all in blue around him.

Silva’s intervention came eight minutes into the second half. The Portuguese collected a sweeping Rodri pass, jinked past Guéhi and on shooting saw Jeffrey Schlupp turn away and in went City’s first.

The home crowd had stayed with their side: here was a first reward, followed by further Silva wizardry as he bamboozled Eze, Guéhi and Schlupp before firing marginally wide.

The playmaker, inevitably, was involved when City did equalise. After another bob-and-weave Silva tapped to an overlapping De Bruyne whose arcing ball found Julián Álvaraz – just on as a replacement – who flicked to Phil Foden. The chip that landed on Haaland’s forehead was as perfect as the finish.

Foden, in one of Guardiola’s always-intriguing tactical moves, was now at left wing-back in place of Cancelo, with De Bruyne filling the right-side berth. Haaland’s second, which put City 3-2 up, finished a pinball-like sequence that twice involved Silva and a scuffed Stones effort that allowed the lethal 22-year-old to prod home.

When Ilkay Gündogan pierced Palace’s rearguard, Haaland pounced and rifled in for his third and a deserved ovation when he was replaced near the end.