Pep Guardiola hailed Erling Haaland’s determination to “run like an animal” after he maintained his stunning start at Manchester City with a brilliant derby hat-trick.
The prolific Norwegian bagged his third treble of the season – and took his goal tally for the club to 17 in just 11 appearances – as ruthless champions City thrashed rivals Manchester United 6-3 in the Premier League.
Phil Foden weighed in with a hat-trick of his own but once again it was the remarkable Haaland, who also laid on two assists, who stole the show on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium.
City manager Pep Guardiola said: “What Erling is doing he has done in Norway, in Austria and in Germany, that is the reality.
“He came (here) and realised, ‘Oh, these guys, my mates, run like an animal and I have to do it too’.
“Of course, the quality we have alongside him helps him to score goals but, what he has done, I didn’t teach him once.
“When the ball is right he attacks the box. How he moves behind the central defender away from the action, he has incredible instincts that the ball will arrive there and it comes from his mum and dad. He was born with that and just to help him produce more goals.
“I have had incredible centre forwards in my career. What I like in the last period of the game is he is involved.
“He said, ‘I prefer to touch the ball five times and score five goals’. I don’t like that, I want him to touch the ball more and more, so he became a football player who scores goals.
“I like that he’s part of more situations, but don’t forget his biggest talent is to put the ball in the net.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 2, 2022
Haaland, who became the first player to score hat-tricks in three successive Premier League games, has started every match since he joined City from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
Guardiola once again paid tribute to the work the 22-year-old has done on his fitness having – despite his superb record – been troubled by niggling injuries earlier in his career.
Guardiola said: “Now we are lucky. Last season he could not play many games, he was injured all the time.
“He arrived here and we have incredible physios. Thanks to them he can play every 90 minutes. Last season Dortmund couldn’t do it but we can do it.”
City were 4-0 up at half-time as they put their neighbours to the sword in a formidable performance that sent out a strong message to the rest of the competition.
“It was really good,” said Guardiola, whose side are back within a point of leaders Arsenal. “Words are not necessary.
“The nicest thing is winning the game but there are a few things we still need to improve.”
Haaland was modest about his latest haul.
“Not bad,” he told Sky Sports. “We score six goals, it’s amazing. To win at home and score six goals is nice.
“You see the passes we give each other. We always want to go forward and attack. It’s what I love about the team.”