Soccer-Haaland breaks new ground for Man City as blistering start continues

By Richard Martin

MANCHESTER, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Erling Haaland had already exceeded expectations since arriving at Manchester City yet he managed to endear himself to his new club even more with his third consecutive home Premier League hat-trick in the 6-3 drubbing of Manchester United on Sunday.

In another remarkable display, Haaland also contributed two assists for Phil Foden, who struck a treble as well.

The Norwegian's goal haul moved him on to 14 strikes in eight Premier League games, double the amount of the league's second-top scorer Harry Kane.

He also destroyed another Premier League record by becoming the fastest player in England's top-flight to score three hat-tricks in only eight matches. The previous record holder was Michael Owen, who needed 48 games to reach the milestone for Liverpool.

City manager Pep Guardiola was not surprised by Haaland's latest tour de force, highlighting his insatiable scoring record with previous sides Molde, RB Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund as well as City, firing 152 goals since turning professional in 2016.

He took no credit for the way the striker has started his career with City, instead pointing to the genes he was blessed with from his mother Gry Marita Braut, a heptathlete, and his father, the former City and Norway midfielder Alfie Haaland.

"I said many times what he is doing this season he had done in Norway, Austria, Germany, that is a reality. The quality we have helps him but I didn't teach him what he has done," Guardiola said.

"Having incredible instinct and sense comes from his mum and dad, he was born with that, we just help him by producing more balls for him."

The Norwegian had little more to prove after scoring twice on his league debut at West Ham United and netting hat-tricks against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.

But this was his hardest test yet, against City's biggest rivals and who had won their previous four Premier League matches, including beating last season's runners-up Liverpool and current leaders Arsenal.

Haaland scored his first goal by heading home Kevin De Bruyne's corner to double City's lead in the 34th minute after Phil Foden had put the hosts in front.

He combined with the Belgian playmaker to score again three minutes later, showing his athletic prowess to make a diving stretch to poke the ball home.

Haaland completed his hat-trick early in the second half, smashing in a first-time shot after being teed up by Sergio Gomez. He then set up Foden's third goal with an incisive through ball to notch his second assist of the game.

Guardiola welcomed his striker's involvement in his side's passing moves.

"He became a football player to score goals but he loves to be in contact with the ball too, I like that he wants to be part of these situations," the City manager added.

"But don't forget his biggest talent is putting the ball in the net." (Reporting by Richard Martin Editing by Toby Davis)