Haaland with a brace to ensure well-deserved City win over West Ham
Manchester City started their Premier League title defense in confident fashion, defeating West Ham 2-0 in front of a record crowd at the London Stadium.
A crowd of 62,443 packed into the Hammers’ home ground, the largest of any London-based club, only to be met by Haaland’s towering presence and Ilkay Gundogan’s wizardry.
Pep Guardiola later referred to midfielder Gundogan as one of City’s “most important” players after a “exceptional” team performance, while also praising the vast improvement made since their Community Shield defeat to Liverpool eight days ago.
West Ham were forced to change goalkeepers midway through the first half, withdrawing the injured Lukasz Fabianski and replacing him with Alphonse Areola, much to the delight of “hungry” Haaland.
The mistake by the substitute goalkeeper created a golden opportunity for the former Borussia Dortmund striker, whose deft run was found by a pinpoint Gundogan pass before being upended by Areola. The challenge was correctly penalized, giving Haaland the perfect opportunity to open his City account from 12 yards.
The Norwegian international made the breakthrough with a coolly-struck spot-kick (26), but it was his second goal that pleased manager Guardiola the most. Kevin De Bruyne’s defence-splitting pass set up the move, with Haaland completing a “incredible goal” in the 65th minute by opening his body and side-footing past a stranded Areola.
Haaland is the second Premier League debutant in history to win a penalty and then convert it, and the second striker to score twice on their City debut, matching Sergio Aguero’s feat from August 2011.
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