Pep Guardiola has pinpointed Erling Haaland’s ‘incredible’ qualities after his hat-trick inspired Manchester City to a 4-2 comeback victory over Crystal Palace.
The Cityzens trailed 2-0 at half-time in what threatened to be a re-run of Palace’s visit to the Etihad Stadium last season. However, Bernardo Silva reduced the arrears shortly after the restart before the Norwegian struck a 19-minute treble to complete the turnaround.
Although Guardiola says Haaland’s goal record has never been in doubt, he insists that he was most pleased by the striker’s body language after his side fell 2-0 behind.
“He came for that [scoring important goals], what he has done all his life,” said the Spaniard. “The numbers of this guy is beyond. The most important thing is he settled perfectly, an incredibly humble guy. He chats more with guys from the academy players and it means a lot.
“What I like of Erling is we are still knowing each other. Still need more time. I saw his body language at 0-2 down how he encouraged his mates. I had the feeling maybe he was not involved in the game but always he was there.
“He didn’t run from the game, always is there. As a striker he is incredible, he didn’t touch the ball but had a feeling the ball was there and he was always involved.”
The second half treble from the Norwegian marked his first hat-trick in City colours, and the 22-year-old revealed his pride in the accomplishment after the victory.
“It was a proud moment for me and my family,” Haaland himself said. “Happy… amazing feeling to score three, a hat-trick, an even better feeling! These games are why I’m here – to turn things around when there is a difficult time.
“In the end it was about small adjustments. We were almost there sometimes in the first half so it was about getting it done. This is what we do. A good feeling. It’s really important to have this kind of mentality and we should get it even more.”