Special night, special moment for Erling Haaland as he breaks EPL scoring record
LONDON – Erling Haaland has taken just one season to set a new “unreal” Premier League record of 35 goals in a single campaign to make a mockery of the idea that it takes time for new arrivals to settle in the English top flight.
The Norwegian striker raced clear to score Manchester City’s second in a 3-0 win over West Ham on Wednesday that put the English champions back on top of the table – one point ahead of Arsenal (78) having also played a game less.
In the process, the 22-year-old moved beyond the mark of 34 set by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole in the 1990s.
“A bit unreal to be honest,” said Haaland on the scale of the achievement.
“I wasn’t thinking of this kind of record when I came here and to break it means I’ve done something special.
“It’s a special night and a special moment. I’m really happy and proud. I don’t know what else to say.”
His strike rate puts even his much-vaunted predecessors, who played in the era of 42-game seasons, in the shade.
Shearer started all 42 matches of the 1994-95 season as he fired Blackburn to the title, while Cole made 40 appearances the previous year for Newcastle.
By contrast, Haaland has reached 35 goals at a rate of one every 72 minutes in just 31 appearances.
“If you were building a centre-forward from the ground up, Erling is what you would be left with,” Shearer said.
“He’s a goal machine, someone who is quick and direct, physically strong and good in the air, who can score with both feet and whose positioning is fantastic.”
City players formed a guard of honour after the game at the Etihad Stadium, patting Haaland on the head as he ran through in celebration.
His dad Alf-Inge Haaland, who also played for City, watched from one of the boxes with a smile and accepted congratulatory handshakes from everyone around him.
“He deserved (the honour guard),” said manager Pep Guardiola, who also saw Nathan Ake and Phil Foden on the scoresheet. “All the team deserved it, because without the team he couldn’t do it, but he’s a special striker.
“We are very pleased for him, because he’s a joy to work with. I think in football when there is a special occasion, we have to show how special it is, as (we did) today with Erling.
“To overcome Andy Cole and Alan Shearer – incredible top, top strikers, it’s special.”
City’s determination to win the battle for the striker’s signature in the summer of 2022 has been rewarded in spectacular fashion.
Guardiola’s men won back-to-back league titles playing largely without an attacking focal point but any suggestion they could be thrown off course by Haaland’s arrival has proved unfounded.
“I remember (the stories that) he will not adjust to the Premier League,” Guardiola added.
“But we knew he scored goals everywhere. And we have to admit the impact of how he adjusted to the team and the league was so quick.
“Immediately we saw he is a guy when you provide him balls, he can score all different types of goals.”
Haaland has also rewritten a handful of Champions League records, having taken just 27 matches to reach 35 goals.
He was also the youngest to reach 30 goals, beating French forward Kylian Mbappe by 116 days.
On March 14, he became only the third player in history to score five goals in a Champions League game in City’s 7-0 rout of RB Leipzig in their last-16 clash.
Last week, he made his mark as the first player in England’s top flight to score 50 goals in all competitions in a season since Tom Waring did so for Aston Villa in 1931.
Haaland’s 51 goals in all competitions is firing City to within touching distance of matching Manchester United’s historic treble of 1998-99.
They face Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals next week and take on United in the FA Cup final on June 3. - AFP, REUTERS