Manchester City’s Erling Haaland scored his record-breaking 35th Premier League goal of the season to help secure a 3-0 victory against West Ham United that sent his side back to the top of the table on Wednesday.
The Norwegian killed off a stubborn West Ham resistance when he dinked a delicate chip into the net after 70 minutes to break the record for the number of goals in a single season in the Premier League.
Treble-chasing City, who began the night in second place after Arsenal’s defeat of Chelsea on Tuesday, had twice been denied by the woodwork as they were frustrated by relegation-threatened West Ham in the first half.
But Nathan Ake made the breakthrough five minutes after the interval with a header from a free kick.
Haaland then eased the tension around the Etihad Stadium as he latched on to Jack Grealish’s through ball to beat Lukasz Fabianski and move past the 34 goals of Andy Cole and Alan Shearer with five games still to play.
With the points secured, substitute Phil Foden then made it 3-0 with a superbly-struck volley in the 85th minute.
City, chasing a fifth title in six seasons under Pep Guardiola, has 79 points from 33 games with Arsenal on 78, having played a game more. They will move four clear if they beat Leeds United at home on Saturday.
West Ham remain in trouble in 15th place, four points above the relegation zone.
David Moyes’s side would have expected a siege and were not disappointed as they spent virtually the entire first half deep in their own half repelling wave after wave of City attacks.
City swarmed forward with Julian Alvarez and Riyad Mahrez forcing routine early saves by Fabianski and Haaland heading a Grealish cross over the bar at full stretch.
West Ham, hampered by the absence of England midfielder Declan Rice because of sickness, defended valiantly with Angelo Ogbonna a colossus as he headed away numerous crosses.
City might have feared the worst when they were twice being denied by the woodwork, first when Grealish’s snap shot hit the outside of the upright and minutes later when Rodri’s shot hit the post and span agonisingly across the face of goal.
Guardiola was left scratching his bald head as City failed to turn their 80% possession into a goal and things could have been worse had Jarrod Bowen’s shot not been blocked by Ederson after a rare West Ham forward foray.
West Ham finally cracked four minutes after the interval, conceding a goal that would have infuriated Moyes.
Having resisted so well, they were undone by a simple old routine — a Mahrez free-kick delivered towards the far post and Dutch defender Ake rising unchallenged to head past Fabianski.
West Ham still looked capable of adding a twist to the script until Grealish released Haaland to nonchalantly take his haul in a stupendous first season to 51 in all competitions.
Foden then put the icing on the cake with the 1,000th goal in Guardiola’s City reign.