MANCHESTER, England (Reuters)
Erling Haaland netted a brace with his first goals since his return from injury to lift Manchester City to a 2-0 home victory over relegation-threatened Everton on Saturday (February 10) and provisionally into top spot in the English Premier League (EPL) table.
Haaland, who recently missed almost two months with a broken bone in his foot, netted his 15th and 16th of the season in the second half to break down some stubborn Everton resistance and go clear at the top of the Premier League scorers’ list.
The 23-year-old has 51 goals in 50 league starts— more goals in 50 starts than any other player in the competition.
Pep Guardiola’s team have 52 points after 23 games, while Liverpool—who can reclaim the lead with a win over Burnley later on Saturday—have 51 points, also from 23 games. Everton are in the relegation zone in 18th.
Haaland’s return to form was perfect timing for City who had 72.5 per cent possession but mustered just three shots on target.
“The changes in the second half gave us another rhythm and of course Erling is back. To have this player, when the ball is there from a corner… and the finishing was amazing,” Guardiola said.
“In the first half our body language was not good, we were always complaining. In the second half they were more positive If you want to give the best of yourself the body language has to be in the right position and finally we took a massively important three points.”
The Toffees’ stifling defence frustrated City before the Norwegian striker finally broke the deadlock with City’s first shot on target in the 71st minute when he fired home a blistering shot after a corner kick.
Haaland, who previously shared top spot in the scorers chart with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, completed the brace when he ran onto a pass from Kevin De Bruyne in midfield before beating Jarrad Branthwaite and then coolly slotting it past keeper Jordan Pickford.
It was the first time City have failed to produce a shot on target in the first half of a home league game since August 2022 against Crystal Palace. They went on to win that game 4-2.
Ian Woan took over in Everton’s dugout for the day while manager Sean Dyche served a one-match touchline suspension after picking up his third yellow card during last weekend’s draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
City face a busy week with a trip to Copenhagen for the first leg of their round-of-16 Champions League tie on Tuesday then host Chelsea on Saturday.