Manchester City 3-0 Wolves: Haaland hat-trick answers Guardiola questions in comfort-zone win

 (Manchester City FC via Getty Ima)
(Manchester City FC via Getty Ima)

For all of Pep Guardiola’s fears that Manchester City have become too cossetted in their pursuit of a fifth Premier League title in six years, it was their most comfortable combination that delivered the goods against Wolves.

Erling Haaland’s mini-drought was extinguished late in the first half on Sunday as the Norwegian headed home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross from a smart Riyad Mahrez cutback.

It was no less than City deserved in a dominant display that could have produced an even bigger scoreline, had Jack Grealish’s shot late in the first half not been cleared off the line by Nathan Collins.

Indeed, the start of the second half saw the Etihad Stadium given more than enough to shout about with Haaland grabbing his fourth hat-trick of the campaign.

Wolves failed to have a shot in the entire first half and hardly touched the ball for the opening 15 minutes, even if clear-cut City chances were initially at a premium.

Haaland’s 19th-minute shot was too close to Jose Sa and parried after Grealish won the ball high up the pitch and De Bruyne played a ball in behind.

Referee David Coote, who readily flashed his cards and booked Wolves coach Julen Lopetegui early on, denied Grealish a penalty after tumbling under a light touch from Collins following Haaland’s goal.

Lopetegui made a triple change at the break, introducing debutant Pablo Sarabia, and only reaped a few moments of lively attacking as a reward before Ruben Neves felled Ilkay Gundogan in the box for a penalty.

Haaland stepped up to send Sa the wrong way and, by the 54th minute, the game was well and truly over.

Sa played a dreadful pass out off his own box and Mahrez leapt on it, drawing the goalkeeper further out before rolling it square to Haaland and the Norwegian picked out an accurate finish to beat the man on the line.

Guardiola, who left Phil Foden out of the squad altogether citing a lack of fitness, was able to substitute Haaland for Julian Alvarez on the hour mark. The Norwegian had upped his Premier League goal tally to 25, outscoring each of the past four seasons’ Golden Boot winners in just 19 appearances.

Mahrez, a player that has been every bit as important as Haaland and De Bruyne in recent weeks, was denied a fourth by a tight offside call.