Haaland hits 20 for the season as Man City crush Southampton

MANCHESTER – Erling Haaland struck his 20th goal of the season as Manchester City strolled to the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 demolition of Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Joao Cancelo, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez were also on target for the English champions, who move two points ahead of Arsenal at the top of the table.

City travel to Liverpool next weekend for what has become the Premier League’s marquee clash in recent seasons.

But on this form Pep Guardiola’s men look unstoppable with Haaland added to a squad that has already won four titles in the last five seasons.

After a couple of early season slip-ups, City are beginning to hit their stride in a six-game winning run and have now struck 31 goals in seven games at the Etihad this season.

In stark contrast to their league meetings last season when Southampton held City twice, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men were incapable to stem the tide from wave upon wave of City attacks.

Reports this week suggested Hasenhuttl is facing the sack after a four consecutive defeats.

“It is not my decision to make,” said the Austrian.

“Since I’ve come here, and it’s been nearly four years now, we have been fighting for results. The problem is not here today, it’s from other weeks where we did not get enough points.”

The surprise was that for once Haaland was not leading the charge as the 22-year-old’s streak of hat-tricks in home Premier League games came to an end at three.

“I’m so upset with him, he didn’t score three goals,” joked Guardiola.

“People expect he is going to score every game three or four goals, but he helped us again.”

Haaland should have opened the scoring when he rattled the inside of the post from Foden’s through ball in the early stages, but it was only a matter of time before the floodgates opened.

Cancelo was retained at left-back despite the absence of Kyle Walker at right-back and the Portuguese produced a finish Haaland would have been proud of as he marauded forward and fired into the bottom corner on 20 minutes.

Foden netted his first hat-trick as City tore Manchester United to shreds last weekend and continued his fine form in front of goal with a delightful chip over Gavin Bazunu.

Guardiola has had some stern words for Mahrez on his physical conditioning in the early weeks of the season, but there were sparks of the Algerian’s best as he volleyed home Rodri’s cross to kill off the encounter as a contest.

All eyes then turned to Haaland’s quest to keep his incredible scoring streak going.

Twice the former Borussia Dortmund striker was guilty of passing up chances he would normally bury as he failed to connect with De Bruyne’s cross from point blank range and then failed to beat Bazunu on a one-on-one.

However, Haaland did finally net for the 10th consecutive club game when he fired home a low cross form the excellent Cancelo. – AFP