Leeds 1 – 3 Man City
Erling Haaland struck twice on his return to Leeds to become the fastest-ever player to reach 20 Premier League goals, as Manchester City moved back up to second and narrowed the gap on leaders Arsenal to five points with a dominant 3-1 win at Elland Road.
The Norwegian was born in Leeds in 2000 when his father Alfe-Inge was playing for the Whites and, with something of an inevitability, tucked in Jack Grealish’s square pass six minutes into the second half before adding another from the same provider on 64 minutes.
The Premier League’s top scorer has hit the 20-goal landmark in just 14 games since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. That’s seven games quicker than previous record-holder Kevin Phillips, who needed 21.
Haaland – who looked fired up after missing out on the World Cup – would have had his fourth hat-trick of the season, too, but for a late stop from Illan Meslier, and later told Amazon Prime: “I should have scored five!”
Those assists from Grealish were his first of the season and came after his own finishing in the final-third was in focus following a string of missed chances in the first half. But Rodri’s opener (45+1) moments before the break rewarded Man City’s supremacy and when Haaland hit the net twice in 13 minutes there was only going to be one outcome.
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch had coached Haaland at RB Salzburg earlier in his career but, like so many Premier League managers this season, could find no way to keep the prolific frontman at bay. That’s 26 strikes in total now for Haaland across all competitions in City colours.
Leeds had lost by an aggregate score of 11-0 to Man City over the course of their Premier League meetings last season and another heavy defeat looked on the cards before Pascal Struijk pulled one back with 16 minutes to play. They went close to a second, too, when Joe Gelhardt’s shot dribbled just wide. But there was to be no denying Haaland or Man City.
Their Premier League title defence is boosted ahead of a key run of games, while Leeds stay 15th, just two points above the relegation zone with game in hand on third-bottom Wolves.
Leeds: Meslier (7), Kristensen (6), Cooper (5), Struijk (6), Koch (5), Forshaw (6), Roca (6), Gnonto (6), Aaronson (6), Greenwood (6), Rodrigo (5)
Subs: Klich (6), Ayling (6), Llorente (6), Gelhardt (6), Gyabi (N/A)
Man City: Ederson (7), Lewis (7), Akanji (7), Stones (7), Ake (7), Gundogan (7), Rodri (8), De Bruyne (8), Haaland (8), Mahrez (7), Grealish (7)
Subs: Cancelo (6), Foden (6), Palmer (N/A)
Player of the match: Erling Haaland (Man City)
How Haaland made history in Leeds
Leeds were given a warning from Haaland inside the opening minute, when the striker forced Meslier to save on the angle. The hosts weathered the early storm, which also saw Kevin De Bruyne shoot wide.
But when Meslier denied Haaland from a one-on-one for a second time just after the half-hour, City ramped up the pressure and should have gone ahead from one of the three good chances that fell to Grealish, only for the England man to fire over each time when well-placed in the box.
Leeds made two changes to the side which lost at Tottenham before the World Cup break, with Crysencio Summerville benched and Tyler Adams suspended. In came Sam Greenwood and Adam Forshaw.
Man City made three changes from their Carabao Cup win over Liverpool, with Ederson, John Stones and Jack Grealish coming in for Stefan Ortega, Aymeric Laporte and Cole Palmer.
City eventually got their goal on the stroke of half-time, though, with Rodri brilliantly rolling on a De Bruyne pass for Riyad Mahrez before reacting quickest to turn in the rebound from his team-mate’s shot. It was his first Premier League goal of the season and remarkably City’s first from open play away from home in five games. They would have a couple more by the final whistle.
Rodri got the all-important opener on the stroke of half-time
The visitors enjoyed 74 per cent possession in the first half, limiting Leeds to just one off-target effort from Wilfried Gnonto. City’s 16 efforts made for the biggest disparity between two teams in any Premier League game this season.
They made that dominance count soon after the restart to take the game away from Leeds, with Grealish capitalising on a Liam Cooper’s poor pass, intended for Robin Koch, to intercept, drive forward and roll the ball across for Haaland to tuck in a simple finish.
The pair were soon at it again, with Haaland reacting quickly to prod home a Grealish cutback after more good work from Rodri and De Bruyne.
Erling Haaland has 20 Premier League goals in 14 appearances this season – a record
Struijk’s header from a corner and Gelhardt’s near-miss kept the vociferous home fans singing right until the final whistle but the headlines belonged to a player born in their own city.
With Chelsea, Man Utd and Tottenham to come in the Premier League before the end of January, it’s crunch time for City – but with Haaland in this form, they look more than ready for the post-World Cup run of games which could decide their title defence.
Haaland: I should’ve scored five! I’m hungrier than ever…
Man City striker Erling Haaland told Amazon Prime: “I said to my team-mates I could have scored five and that’s the truth. That we win is the most important thing. Arsenal are at the top and we have to hunt them.
“I was at home on my sofa a bit mad that I wasn’t playing at the World Cup. I was a commentator in my own home about the World Cup but nobody was listening to me.
“I recharged my batteries and watching other people scoring and winning games at the World Cup motivated and irritated me. I’m hungrier than ever.”
Player of the match – Erling Haaland
No prizes for guessing who takes home the award from this one. Haaland has absolutely obliterated the previous record for scoring 20 goals in a Premier League season, doing it seven games quicker than Sunderland star Kevin Phillips.
Haaland’s performance against Leeds demonstrated his expertly-time runs, his speed and physicality to hold off defenders and his instinctive finishing. It was only when he had some time with the one-on-ones that he was denied by Meslier.
Man City had the most players of any Premier League club at the World Cup but with their Norwegian hitman rested and recovered after six weeks off, Haaland looks primed to fire his team towards another Premier League title.
Pep: Grealish can’t have negative mindset
Man City boss Pep Guardiola told Amazon Prime: “It’s job done. The second half was even more difficult than the first! We were exceptional in the first half but we wasted opportunities… but we didn’t concede a single chance against a side who has caused problems for Liverpool and Chelsea.
“It’s a big compliment for the guys after the World Cup. The two performances since coming back, against Liverpool [in the Carabao Cup] and today have been great.”
On Erling Haaland, Guardiola joked: “I’m so upset with the chances he missed! Catching Alan Shearer’s record is impossible! We’re delighted for how humble he is. Given the reputation he has and how tall he is, but his character is completely the opposite. He’s an exceptional guy with a very high work ethic. It’s a great threat for the opponent having him there.”
On Jack Grealish’s display, Guardiola said: “He got two assists but of course he has to score goals. The chances are there and it’s a question of mentality. We’ve seen in the training sessions he has the ability to put the ball into the net. He’s not a striker but he has the ability to do it. He can’t have any negativity in his mind.”
Marsch calls for hard work and patience to avoid relegation fight
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch told Amazon Prime: “I am trying to focus on our ability to stay in the moment and be at our best for each match. And I feel like when we do that, we can have a good team. We still have work to do. We need to get a couple of guys healthy because we think a couple of those guys can really help us, but I just want to keep our heads down and focused on getting better week to week.
“We know we have enough quality in our team to not be in a relegation battle but it will require this kind of mentality to be a workman, go after it every day and do everything we can.”
Opta stats – More Man City landmarksEderson has won 150 of his 197 Premier League games, becoming the first player to reach 150 wins in fewer than 200 appearances in the competition’s history.Aged 18 years and 37 days, Rico Lewis became the youngest Englishman to start a Premier League game for Manchester City since Micah Richards in May 2006 vs Blackburn (17 years, 317 days).Erling Haaland has scored 26 goals in 20 appearances under Pep Guardiola; this is the quickest that any player has reached 25 goals under Guardiola with top-flight clubs.What’s next?
Manchester City host Everton on New Year’s Eve in a 3pm kick-off, when Leeds take on Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Full Story: https://www.skysports.com/football/leeds-united-vs-manchester-city/report/464801
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