Haaland bags yet another treble as Pep’s City slickers hit Clarets for six

By Rob Draper



dmg media (UK)



VINCENT Kompany had been telling us all week to ignore Pep Guardiola’s bouquets, the Catalan’s siren voice intimating that the Burnley manager was such a talent he would inevitably be coaching Manchester City sooner or later. Kompany appreciated it was all too much, too young, suspecting it might be a case of being drowned in praise before being forced to scramble for the lifeboats. After all, Kompany has been in enough Manchester City sides and seen off enough pretenders at the Etihad to know what was likely to be in store. But then Burnley are a phenomenon in the Championship, running away with the league and as such this felt like an intriguing contest with the added twist of apprentice Kompany taking on his master Guardiola. Kompany shared an embrace with Guardiola before the game and was warmly received by the Etihad like it was home from home. The twist was that he played a version of 4-4-2 here though not as you or Sean Dyche would know it, with full-backs pushing into midfield and wingers helping out when the centre-backs pushed into attacking creative positions. And for 32 minutes his team matched City for quirky positional set-ups and off-theball runs and even produced a dangerous moment when Nathan Tella forced Stefan Ortega into a sharp save. ‘In the beginning they weren’t at their best and maybe we poked them a bit and woke them up,’ Kompany admitted. And then they ran into the monster that is Erling Haaland. No shame in submitting to him. Not many tactical plans survive contact with the Norwegian (below). After all, one of the Bundesliga’s finest had capitulated earlier in the week, conceding seven. As such. Burnley can feel pleased they did better than RB Leipzig. Here Haaland took his total for the week to nine goals and 42 for the season. Reader, it’s mid March. No-one alive has quite seen anything like this. On 32 minutes, Julian Alvarez threaded through the kind of ball that Haaland simply devours. Sprinting on to it, even his finish was exquisite, delaying his striker until keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell had committed and then prodding it past him. There followed a full-on time-out by Kompany as City celebrated. Burnley had presumably planned for this moment, as the second the ball hit the net they all ran to the bench to receive the coach’s instructions. What wasn’t in the playbook was conceding a second to Haaland three minutes later. This time it was the brilliance of Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden that provided the assist. De Bruyne’s ball inside right-back Connor Roberts was simply impossible to defend, which was followed by Foden rolling his cross into the path of Haaland for 2-0. Foden accelerated past his man on 60 minutes, tucked away his shot, only to see it rebound off the post. No matter. Guess who was there, taking a perfectly coordinated swing first time and nailing the rebound? This was Haaland’s sixth hat-trick of the season. ‘I think we’re in the part of the season where we should be at our best,’ Haaland said after the match. ‘Of course we should be at our best all the time , but we have to perform every single game. ‘The last couple of games have been finals — that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.’ Riyad Mahrez then found De Bruyne and Alvarez finished the incisive move for 4-0. By now Burnley were thoroughly demoralised, soaking wet as the rain swirled around the Etihad and frankly had abandoned any clear sense of tactical discipline. So it was that Cole Palmer, the 20-year-old replacement for Haaland, would find himself with a clear opportunity to make it 5-0 on 67 minutes after Peacock-Farrell had deflected Foden’s cross into his path. Of course, he took it. De Bruyne, who were it not for the astonishing Norwegian, would have been man of the match, was simply in his element, afforded time and space in midfield. The Belgian played one of those delightful balls through a ragged Burnley midfield and it was simple for Alvarez to make it 6-0. The mercy for Burnley is they stopped there. ‘It’s been a good month with Newcastle, Leipzig, Crystal Palace and today it was a good one, a tough game,’ Guardiola said. ‘It’s not a surprise to see what Burnley are doing in the Championship. Next season we will face them (in the Premier League).’