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Unbelievable! See the number of touches Haaland had against Copenhagen, four of them shots

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The Norwegian netted with his first touch of the game and doubled the lead inside the first half for his 19th goal in just 12 appearances for the club..



An own goal by David Khocholava and a Riyad Mahrez penalty heaped further misery on the Danes in a one-sided game before Julian Alvarez made it five late on with his first Champions League goal after fine work by Jack Grealish. It was that easy for City.

Haaland was substituted at half-time with the match already won and Pep Guardiola’s side progressing serenely into the knockout stages having now picked up nine points from their first three games. They top Group G, eight points clear of Sevilla in third place.

How Haaland blew Copenhagen away
Going into the seventh minute of the game, Copenhagen could not have kept Haaland quieter. He had yet to touch the ball. But Joao Cancelo’s cross was deflected into his path and he lashed the shot right-footed beyond Kamil Grabara and into the net.

The chances kept coming for City but the away side were grateful when they fell to others. Grealish had a couple of shots saved, while Ilkay Gundogan was denied well by Grabara. The problems came when the ball fell to the most lethal finisher in the land.

That is what happened when the goalkeeper could only parry Sergio Gomez’s shot into his path and Haaland measured the ball into the vacant net. The only man who could deny him his hat-trick was Guardiola – hooking him in favour of Cole Palmer at the interval.

By that stage, City were three up thanks to a double-deflected Gomez shot that was diverted in by Khocholava. Even Haaland’s removal did not stop the scoring. Aymeric Laporte was pulled down in the box and Mahrez scored his first of the season from the spot.

Copenhagen did go close a couple of times at the other end, but a driving run by Grealish – one of many in a magnificent display – found Mahrez and his centre was tapped home by Alvarez. A useful reminder that the Argentine can take on that striker role too.

Whether there is anybody in the world who can do it quite as well as Haaland is another matter.

Analysis: Haaland continues to astonish

It was the 35th minute of the match and you had to concentrate to see it. Haaland laid the ball off and turned. There were no cheers but that was it – his second pass of the night. Incredibly, this scoring phenomenon already had his second goal of the night by then.

It is a complete subversion of Guardiola’s philosophy. A coach who has built his success on a passing game now boasts the world’s most formidable forward and yet he hardly passes the ball at all. He hardly touches it at all. Eleven touches against Copenhagen. Four of them shots.

Domestically, we are already reaching beyond the Premier League for comparisons. Alan Shearer and Andy Cole’s record of 34 goals in a single season looks so certain to go that it is Dixie Dean’s tally of 60 league goals almost a century ago that is the total to beat now.

Beyond our shores, Lionel Messi’s 73-goal season in all competitions for Barcelona is a marker of note. Such targets can no longer be seen as fanciful. Haaland did not expend much energy against Copenhagen. Guardiola might decide to reassess the need to rest him.

He had talked of rotation but Haaland has started every one of City’s 12 games so far and the postponed midweek fixture against Arsenal later this month lightens the load a little. If rested in Copenhagen, he can focus on the Premier League for much of October.

With Norway not at the World Cup, Haaland’s recuperation period can come then. How many more defences will have been on the receiving end by that stage? This does not feel like a hot streak, just the inevitable result of ice-cold finishing and a talent for the ages.

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