The Norwegian phenomenon’s 51st goal of a truly remarkable first campaign in English football was his 35th in the top-flight in just 31 appearances, moving one clear of previous joint record-holders Andy Cole and Alan Shearer. He received a guard of honour off the pitch from his adoring team-mates in jubilant scenes following the full-time whistle.
Substitute Phil Foden also scored the 1,000th City goal of the Pep Guardiola era on a memorable night and Nathan Ake marked his return from a hamstring injury with an opening header as dominant defending champions City made it nine successive League victories to go straight back above Arsenal, who had temporarily moved back to the top by brushing aside Chelsea 3-1 in a one-sided London derby on Wednesday night to end their damaging four-game winless run.
If City beat struggling Leeds back at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon in new caretaker boss Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge of the visitors, then they will open up a potentially pivotal four-point lead on Arsenal with only four games to go, with the Gunners facing a tough trip to high-flying Newcastle 24 hours later.
Spirited West Ham aquitted themselves very well indeed for the majority of the night in Manchester, particularly given that a late sickness bug had ripped through the first-team squad and seen the likes of influential starters Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek and Nayef Aguerd all join the newly-injured Kurt Zouma on the sidelines.
David Moyes’ side - who had only five outfield substitutes available as a result of that illness outbreak - kept their shape, discipline and concentration admirably to go in level at the break despite Rodri and Jack Grealish both hitting the post, but could not hold out for more than five minutes after the interval as the rejuvenated City juggernaut proved just too strong.
First Ake profited from a lack of awareness from Angelo Ogbonna to head in Riyad Mahrez’s dangerous free-kick and score his first League goal of the season. Then Haaland had another record moment to remember as he collected Grealish’s perfect through ball on the counter-attack before deftly lobbing the on-rushing Lukasz Fabianski in typically composed fashion.
Another comfortable win was then wrapped up five minutes from time when Foden’s fierce volley from the edge of the box was deflected in off Emerson Palmieri.
A third straight defeat has rather sapped the momentum from West Ham’s mini-resurgence that included a run to the Europa Conference League semi-finals, with the gap to the relegation zone remaining at four points ahead of Sunday night’s visit of Manchester United to the London Stadium.