Pep Guardiola hails ‘unbelievable’ Erling Haaland goalscoring record

By Sports Desk February 28, 2024

Pep Guardiola hailed as “unbelievable” Erling Haaland’s goal haul after Manchester City’s top scorer hit five in the FA Cup holders’ fifth-round thrashing of Luton.

The 23-year-old took his tally for the season in all competitions to 27 as he combined with the excellent Kevin De Bruyne to deliver a goalscoring masterclass in the 6-2 victory at Kenilworth Road.

It came less than four weeks after his return to the side following nearly two months out with a foot injury, and took his total since joining City in the summer of 2022 to 79 in 83 appearances.

After looking noticeably out of sorts in recent games, particularly during the 1-1 draw with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium when he missed a host of chances, it marked a devastating return to form for a player that scored a record 36 times in the Premier League last season.

“How many chances did he have against Chelsea?” said Guardiola. “A lot. He maybe had less against Bournemouth (a 1-0 away win), one or two. But it’s his talent. We know always he is there, he always has the chances.

“Always we work as a team, providing the chances. Sometimes you score goals, sometimes not. Quite often he scores. But it’s not a big issue because he’s a special talent.

“The number he has at his age in all competitions, honestly it’s unbelievable. At the end, we know it. He’s our top goalscorer, happy that he’s got the confidence, because the guys who are the top scorers need goals, and he did it (against Luton).”

Haaland hit a first-half hat-trick against Luton to ease his team into the quarter-finals, with each of his goals set up by De Bruyne who himself returned from a lengthy injury lay-off only in January.

The pair combined for Haaland’s fourth in the second half after Rob Edwards’ side had briefly threatened a fightback via two goals from Jordan Clark.

Bernardo Silva set up the Norwegian’s fifth, before a fine finish from Mateo Kovacic made it six as the champions put on an irresistible showing ahead of Sunday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad.

“The United game will be completely different,” said Guardiola. “They defend differently. They have experienced players.

“We’ll have two days off, so people don’t see each other. Have to refresh out minds and our legs and have two days to prepare our game.”

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    Cole Palmer is grateful for the opportunity Chelsea gave him to join the club after he celebrated successive home hat-tricks when he scored four times in the Blues’ 6-0 win over Everton.

    The Manchester City academy graduate, who joined the Blues last summer, scored a spectacular individual goal to open the scoring.

    Palmer scored a header and added a third when he capitalised on a Jordan Pickford error before converting a penalty in the second half. Nicolas Jackson and Alfie Gilchrist also got on the scoresheet as the Toffees came completely unstuck.

    It was Palmer’s second home triple in a row, following his three goals against Manchester United earlier this month.

    Palmer told Chelsea’s official website: “To make the decision to come to Chelsea was a big one for me and my family, but I just wanted to play football. I’m thankful to Chelsea for the opportunity and I’m buzzing.

    “We started well and to score a hat-trick, I’m buzzing. I think the team needed that after last Sunday and some previous games. We did well tonight. It was a great game for the team and me.”

    Palmer showed wonderful skill for his first goal after he jinked past Jarrad Branthwaite, receiving a flick-on from Jackson before he produced a first-time curled effort from outside the box into the bottom left-hand corner.

    The 21-year-old added: “I think my first one was my favourite.

    “My right-footed goal was a bit of a swinger, but my first one was probably my favourite. As an attacker, you always want to help the team with goals and assists, but my main focus was playing well and trying to get into the positions to score goals.”

    Manager Mauricio Pochettino heaped praise on Palmer, who is now joint top in the Premier League’s Golden Boot race with Erling Haaland on 20 goals each.

    He said: “I don’t judge the player when we sign (them) but I expected the best. It doesn’t surprise us, he’s a player who has had the capacity to score goals when he was playing at Manchester City. He has the capacity to score easily.

    “The way he’s adapted, playing and performing is fantastic. He behaves like a top scorer and I think it’s amazing for the team and him.”

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    Cole Palmer’s four-goal haul in Chelsea’s thumping 6-0 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge was overshadowed by what Mauricio Pochettino called “unacceptable” behaviour as two of his players were involved in a physical altercation over who should take a penalty.

    The home side were four goals up in the second half when Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke caused the unsavoury scene that left their manager feeling the need to apologise to fans watching the game around the world.

    Palmer, the club’s appointed penalty taker, finally took charge following intervention from the captain Conor Gallagher, recovering his composure to score his fourth of the game and move on to 20 Premier League goals for the season.

    “The players know, the club knows that Palmer is the penalty-taker,” said Pochettino, who was visibly agitated during his post-match duties.

    “I’m so, so upset about the situation. In every country people are watching the game and we cannot send this type of image.

    “I want to apologise to our fans. Discipline is the most important thing for the team. It’s a collective sport. I’m not going to accept this type of behaviour. I’m going to be very strong. I promise it’s not going to happen again.

    “We need to move on and talk about the game – 6-0 against a very good team like Everton, clean sheet, I think we should be happy, no?”

    In a debut season defined by individual excellence, the first half was superb, even by Palmer’s own exceptional standards.

    His first goal alone was worthy of winning a Premier League match, nutmegging Jarrad Branthwaite before playing a neat one-two with Jackson, then curling the ball left-footed beyond the dive of Jordan Pickford.

    His second was a poacher’s finish, reacting quickest to knock in the rebound after Jackson’s effort had been pushed out by the goalkeeper.

    Everton were falling apart, a collapse encapsulated by Pickford’s error, playing the ball straight to Palmer to punt the ball into an empty net from 45 yards.

    Jackson scored Chelsea’s fourth, hooking Marc Cucurella’s cross under control and guiding it home with a swing of the right boot.

    Then came the sight of Jackson and Madueke pushing and shoving over a penalty awarded in the 63rd minute.

    “We don’t talk about punishment,” said Pochettino. “It’s about learning. They are young guys. It was very good the reaction of Gallagher like a captain. But you cannot show that type of behaviour.

    “The discipline is going to be stronger. If they behave like kids, it’s impossible. You cannot behave like kids. It’s a shame, it’s an unacceptable thing. We don’t deserve to be talking about this.”

    At the end of an excellent display, academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist capped things off by firing home his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

    Everton boss Sean Dyche, whose side sit just two points clear of the relegation zone, reflected on a “horrid” night for his team.

    “It’s miles off where we want to be,” he said. “There’s no excuses for that. Miles off the mark, miles from where we’ve been.

    “The goals were alarmingly poor. It’s just simple tackling, reading and anticipating the game. The basics were out the window. A horrid night without a shadow of a doubt.”

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