The phenomenon that is Erling Haaland ended Manchester City’s dismantling of Manchester United with a third consecutive home Premier League hat-trick in a chastening afternoon for Erik ten Hag’s men.
At the moment Haaland is too powerful, too hungry and simply too good for the opposition. The Norwegian can also create, as he did for the passes that allowed Phil Foden to register his second and final finish as he too enjoyed a hat-trick.
This 188th derby was the mother and father of all mismatches, City handing their neighbours a lesson that had them reeling, United 4-0 down at half-time – as at Brentford – and praying, surely, this would not end in a double-digit defeat.
A final humiliation came with 25 minutes left when Pep Guardiola made a quadruple substitution, two of those replacing the scintillating Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne.
Antony and Anthony Martial were United’s scorers but their strikes made it first 4-1, then 6-2 and 6-3 (the Frenchman scoring two), on a day when United fans were shown leaving at the interval, unable to stomach further bullying of their dazed players.
As Haaland, who now has 17 in 10 for City, said: “Yeah, not bad. We scored six goals, what can you say? It’s nice. We always want to go forward, we always want to attack. This is what I love about the team. In the end, it’s amazing. There’s nothing more to say.”
City blew their guests away from kick-off. They monopolised the ball and space and were ahead inside 10 minutes. Before Foden’s opener only desperate defending from Scott McTominay and David de Gea prevented them being breached.
When Haaland leaped at the far post to head a Bernardo Silva cross, McTominay stabbed this away only to see De Bruyne rifle a shot that was goal-bound before De Gea’s panther-like save, Silva having his follow-up stymied.
United were punch-drunk already. Not required was Bruno Fernandes gifting the ball to the champions needlessly, and how they struck. Foden initiated and finished a sequence that had possession going rat-a-tat between him, Grealish, Ilkay Gündogan and Silva. It came back to the No 47, whose finish beat De Gea at his right post, going over Raphaël Varane’s shoulder.
Grealish had already caused Diogo Dalot to be booked very early on and his penchant for dribbling engineered an opening from which City went close to a second. After he skipped beyond Fernandes, Lisandro Martínez upended the left wingman; Gündogan’s 20-yard dead-ball curved away from De Gea and clipped the No 1’s left post.
This was already riot from those in blue. Further disturbance occurred when the potent Grealish tapped to Silva and his drag-back was met by Foden, who should not have missed.
United, dizzied, could not stop City pouring through them. Manuel Akanji, in for a surprisingly dropped Rúben Dias, showed one way when floating the ball over the top to Kyle Walker, as Guardiola’s men enjoyed what United craved: total control – this despite their midfield metronome, Rodri, an absentee due to injury. Antony summed up the state the visitors had to break out of when, after a rare foray, the wideman sprayed a ball to precisely no one.
There was then zero surprise at what happened next. Varane had gone down near the area, causing Fernandes to unload at Michael Oliver when the referee allowed the contest to continue. The passage ended in a City corner, Varane went off for treatment, and De Bruyne swung the kick in. Up rose Haaland, whom Christian Eriksen, McTominay and Dalot could not stop heading home.
Finish No 16 of the campaign for the Norwegian soon ensued, his partner in goal-plundering again De Bruyne. The latter wandered forward and delivered one of his slicing parabolas which left Varane out of position and Haaland in the perfect spot to slide in.
Cue Varane being replaced – horse, bolt and gate sprung to mind – for Victor Lindelöf. Walker also had to be removed, for Sergio Gómez, who went to left-back, João Cancelo switching to the right.
For his next trick Haaland turned provider. De Bruyne, too, had an inevitable part feeding the 22-year-old who bent his run and drilled over a sweet ball Foden swept past De Gea. All of a blue persuasion were in raptures.
For the second half Luke Shaw replaced Tyrell Malacia but instantly De Gea had to parry from Foden who skated through the left-back’s corridor and went close. Guardiola having a fit at 4-0 up when Gómez failed to ping a ball forward was an instructive sight. Perhaps he could smell how Antony was soon to career past Grealish and the dozing Gómez before letting fly to ripple the City net.
Ten Hag made like-for-like switches in McTominay for Casemiro and Marcus Rashford for Martial leaving Cristiano Ronaldo benched, the Portuguese’s response a pout.
Haaland’s third ended a classic City move that had De Bruyne one-two-ing with Grealish, the Belgian passing to Gómez whose delivery was smacked in by the lethal marksman.
Martial bundled one beyond Ederson for 6-2 and there was still time to score a penalty after Cancelo fouled him in the area. But 6-3 seriously flattered United, who have to recover quickly from this.