Haaland scores again as champions Man City go top

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland is helping to bring the best out of Kevin de Bruyne after seeing the pair help his side sweep Southampton aside 4-0 to move top of the Premier League.

Haaland scored his 20th goal for City against Saints, while De Bruyne’s pass to set up Phil Foden means his stats are just as stellar, with nine assists in his first nine league games.

De Bruyne has already bettered the tally of eight league assists he made last season, and is well on his way towards breaking the record of 20 in a single campaign that he shares with Thierry Henry.

“Of course for a player like Kevin, and especially Kevin, having this threat, this guy [Haaland] who likes to run in behind with this pace, it helps him a lot,” Guardiola said.

“Kevin again created three or four chances [against Southampton], but he can play better. Today was not the best Kevin that we know, because he can put his mate in front of the keeper most of the time – but having players like Erling, Julian [Alvarez] or Phil, making movements in behind, it is so important to him.”

Twenty goals is usually the benchmark of a successful season for any striker, but Haaland has taken only 13 games to reach that mark in all competitions, with struggling Saints the latest side to find out how hard it is to keep him or his team-mates quiet.

City attacked relentlessly from the start and Haaland was within inches of giving them an early lead when – to the surprise of virtually the entire stadium – he hit the inside of the post after galloping clear.

Instead it was Joao Cancelo who put the home side ahead, running on to Phil Foden’s pass and cutting past James Ward-Prowse before finding the bottom corner of the net.

Foden, who like Haaland scored a hat-trick here against Manchester United last weekend, got on the scoresheet himself soon afterwards with a dinked finish after De Bruyne found him in space in the box.

That put City in complete control at the break and they wrapped up the points at the start of the second half when Riyad Mahrez volleyed home a Rodri cross.

The only thing missing for the home fans was another Haaland goal and, after three successive home league hat-tricks, for once it appeared it might not be his day.

Haaland was unable to get on the end of De Bruyne’s cross under pressure from Mohammed Salisu, and then brilliantly denied by Gavin Bazunu who dived at his feet as he charged through on goal.

As the chances kept coming however, you just knew Haaland would take one – and so he did, meeting Cancelo’s cutback with a typically precise low finish to make it 4-0 after 65 minutes.

Southampton, who managed only one touch in the City area and a total of two shots – both from distance, and both off target – drew home and away against Guardiola’s side last season. This time, they never looked like avoiding a fourth consecutive defeat. (BBC Sport)

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