It was bound to happen. You can’t keep a striker of the power and quality of Erling Haaland down too long. After an uncharacteristic six-game goal drought, the 6’ 4” goal machine scored twice for Manchester City in their Premier League opener against Burnley.
Defensive midfielder Rodri added a third as City won 3-0, although perfectionist manager Pep Guardiola was not too happy with the showing, animatedly debating with Haaland in public view at half-time.
Haaland had also started last season, his first with City, with a brace. West Ham were at the receiving end then. He went on to score 52 goals across tournaments, 36 of them in the Premier League.
“We are still in the start phase of this marathon but I'm not stressing. I'm relaxed,” Haaland said. “I have to keep on developing and enjoy the chaos around me and perform on the pitch.”
There were two clear reasons why Guardiola seemed stressed. Kevin De Bruyne started for the first time since exiting the Champions League final with a hamstring problem. But his return lasted only 23 minutes as the injury flared up again.
“It's a pity — he has recovered well but now we have lost him for some time,” Guardiola said.
Then defender Rico Lewis, who is Black, was hit by a lighter thrown from the stands near the corner flag, where he lay after being fouled. Burnley said the guilty spectator had been removed from the stadium by police.
City took the lead in the fourth minute when Haaland, with his first touch in the match, tapped in a nod-down by Rodri off a De Bruyne cross from the right-wing.
Haaland’s second came in the 36th minute and was a spectacular shot with his back to the goal, after Julian Alvarez laid off a Kyle Walker cross.
“I just have to keep on working, keep relaxing and not to focus on negative things,” Haaland said.
Then Rodri buried in a third in the 75th minute, a close range effort after a defensive lapse from Burnley. Rodri had also scored City’s winner in the Champions League final against Inter Milan.