Erling Haaland continued his assault on the record books as Manchester City beat Leeds United 3-1 at Elland Road on Wednesday to move into second in the Premier League.
A late first-half strike from Rodri and a second-half double from Haaland — his 19th and 20th goals making him the first in league history to reach that mark before January — helped move Pep Guardiola’s side to 35 points from 15 matches this season, five behind leaders Arsenal.
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Man City were the better side by far in the first half but had little to show for it, with Leeds keeper Illan Meslier stuffing Haaland on the doorstep at the 30-minute mark and Jack Grealish fluffing several opportunities before Rodri put back a late rebound to give the visitors the lead at the break.
Haaland, who was born in Leeds while his father played for the club, doubled City’s advantage early in the second half with the easiest of finishes after Grealish picked off the ball at midfield, charged into the penalty area and squared it to his teammate to roll into an empty net.
The City duo linked up again for City’s third, working a lovely one-two in front of the Leeds goal with Haaland applying a perfect first-time finish to a return pass from Grealish for his 26th goal in all competitions this season.
“You have a [goal] target but I cannot say it,” Haaland said after the match. “I just said inside the dressing room that I could have scored five, but the most important thing is that we won.
“We have to hunt Arsenal. I could have scored a couple more, but that’s life and I have to train more.”
Jesse Marsch’s team pulled one back through Pascal Struijk in the 73rd minute, but the game was out of reach for the hosts, who finished the day in 15th place on 15 points.
“The thing we know about our team is that we never quit,” Marsch said after the match. “So, the timing of the goals were painful, right? If we could get to into the half, then maybe we can make a couple of adjustments and find a way to push the game.
“I thought in many moments — it’s Man City, in many ways for me the best team in the world with one of the best coaches in the world, so you can’t contain them entirely, but I thought we did a pretty good job.”
Next up for Man City is a home game against Everton on New Year’s Eve, while Leeds travel to St James’ Park on the same day for a match with third-placed Newcastle United.
City had lost their last league match before the World Cup break to Brentford but dominated from the off in West Yorkshire. Haaland wasted no time in having a first attempt at goal, seeing his effort to loft the ball into the net well saved after just 36 seconds.
Leeds conceded 11 goals to City last season and remained up against it as Haaland was presented with another golden chance to break the deadlock, but he again could not beat Meslier.
The opportunities kept coming and going for City, but finally, with their 16th shot of the opening period alone, Rodri was on hand to stab the opener home.
Alfie Haaland took 181 Premier League appearances to score 18 goals in the competition, but his son needed just 14 to overtake him, slotting home Grealish’s pass six minutes into the second half to double City’s lead.
Haaland then smashed the record for number of games needed to reach the 20 mark by converting another Grealish pass to make it three, needing seven fewer matches to reach such a goal tally than the next fastest, Kevin Phillips.