In 188 editions of the Manchester derby there have only been four hat-tricks scored by Manchester City players. And two of them came on Sunday.
Erling Haaland and Phil Foden joined Francis Lee and Horace Barnes – in 1970 and 1921, no less – in City’s annals and this was certainly an event that will live long in the memory of all who were there, no matter on which side of the red and blue divide. For the visitors it will have been as painful as it was joyful for the victors, who were so comprehensively superior that the 6-3 scoreline very much flattered Manchester United.
They were 4-0 down at half-time and all that stopped it becoming ten was that the match was by then over and modern players need to conserve energy in this of all seasons. So City no longer floored the accelerator and Manchester United achieved a measure of respectability. Unless you saw the game, of course. Witnesses will confirm that this was a battering not a battle royal and United look as far behind their neighbours as they have at any time since they were in separate divisions.
Erling Haaland (left) and Phil Foden both scored hat-tricks as Manchester City dominated Manchester United on Sunday
Haaland netted three goals for the third successive game as City closed the gap to leaders Arsenal to one point
The Norwegian striker was devastating in front of goal once again as City made a statement of intent at the Etihad
Haaland took his tally of Premier League goals to 14 as he continued his incredible start to life with Manchester city
The united players looked dejected after the referee blew his whistle to bring the action packed game to an end
As for Haaland and Foden, having entered the second-half on two apiece, both got a third to confirm the gulf between these so-called rivals. Double hat-tricks are rare, just two previously in Premier League history. Jermaine Pennant and Robert Pires in a 6-1 win for Arsenal over Southampton in May 2003, and Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Perez when Leicester won 9-0 at Southampton in October 2019. Haaland and Foden are the first to deliver such punishment to a team that isn’t Southampton.
For Haaland, it is his third straight Premier League hat-trick at home – a feat never before performed in the modern era. Michael Owen was a truly prolific goalscorer, a teenager sensation. It took him 48 to score three hat-tricks. Haaland is there in eight.
And he was first to his three here, too, his crowning goal coming after 65 minutes, following a quite lovely build up that involved the magnificent Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, De Bruyne again, before Sergio Perez – on for the injured Kyle Walker in another admirably front foot move from Pep Guardiola – crossed for Haaland to finish first time, almost bursting the net in the process.
Eight minutes later, Haaland threaded the ball through to Foden who sprung a United offside trap that appeared to have been abandoned at the planning stage, before finishing smartly. At the end, all that was troubling City was how to share a match ball between two players. In the end, a second one was produced and everyone left happy.
Phil Foden produced a cool finish to score his side’s sixth goal of the game and complete his hat-trick in the secondhalf
Foden looked delighted after netting a treble against his side’s local rivals in the latter stages of the game
Haaland met Kevin De Bruyne’s inch-perfect cross with a smart finish at the back post to give the home side a 3-0 lead
Haaland and Foden were all smiles after combining to put united to the sword on a sunny afternoon in Manchester
Not just the players, either. There were times during the first-half – and it was all about those opening 45 minutes – when it was truly hard to keep from laughing. Not at Manchester United, but at the sheer audacity and exhilarating thrill of Manchester City in full flow. This was an incredible win for Guardiola, and it is hard to imagine any coach attempting a strategy so positive when faced with the loss of Rodri, his first choice defensive midfielder.
To then see Guardiola’s gameplan, not just work, but tear the opposition apart was a euphoric experience. Guardiola challenged what is considered possible; certainly against elite opponents and bitter rivals. Many would be cautious. Instead, he played Manchester United, a team on a run of four straight league wins, pretty much without a defensive shield. Having lost Rodri, Guardiola chose to replace him with…well, nobody really.
Ilkay Gundogan hung in there, unless City were attacking, when he broke forward as hungrily as any forward. On the occasions when United had the ball he received help from full-backs Walker and Joao Cancelo, and sometimes from De Bruyne or Bernardo Silva dropping deeper. Then the ball would be retrieved and – trumpet fanfare, charge. And apologies if that makes City sound unsophisticated. They most certainly are not. The football is arguably the highest standard this country has seen from any club side.
Yet there were times when they simply swarmed over United, their pace, their ambition, their physicality so utterly superior it defied logic. They should not be this much better. United have good players, too. Yet where were they? Diogo Dalot was booked after two minutes, Tyrell Malacia followed him after 24, and was removed at half-time – but with both United full-backs on yellow cards, City didn’t do anything as obvious as come down the wings.
Foden met Haaland’s low ball across goal to score his second goal of the game minutes before the end of the first half
Haaland rose highest to head home from De Bruyne’s cross midway through the first half of the premier League game
Foden produced a lovely finish at the near post to break the deadlock just eight minutes after kick-off in Manchester
They came through the middle, came down the flanks, their dead balls were a menace, it was if they opened up offensive fronts in all areas . No wonder United appeared rattled. Sir Alex Ferguson was the last of the club’s managers to win his first derby game – in March 1987 – and the television cameras found him looking as miserable as hell in the directors’ box. And while five consecutive United managers have lost first time out to City, it is hard to imagine any have felt the hot flush of embarrassment quite like Erik ten Hag at half-time here. United will have fancied their chances going into this. Their form is good, the ten Hag regime has been winning plaudits – yet this was a humiliating dismantling.
It began when Dalot was booked for crudely taking out Grealish. That was the warning sign. Now he couldn’t touch him again for 88 minutes. It already looked a matter of time before City led, and it was. A lovely exchange of passes ended with Silva cutting the ball back for Foden after eight minutes. He shot first time and De Gea didn’t even get the chance to move. The signs were ominous for Manchester United.
Much had been made of the disparity in height between United centre-half Lisandro Martinez and Haaland and after 18 minutes, Martinez chose to pick on someone his own size. He kicked Grealish and Gundogan hit a post with the resulting free-kick. In the 31st minute, De Bruyne had a shot tipped over by De Gea. But it was all just postponing the inevitable: which was that Haaland would score.
Pep Guardiola couldn’t hude his delight as he watched his side tear their rivals apart for the majority of the match
Haaland and his team0-mates looked fired up as they showed why they remain favourites to retain the title
In the build up to De Bruyne’s shot, United wanted the game stopped for an injury to Raphael Varane. The defender went off for treatment and, while this was happening, Haaland took advantage. Was Christian Eriksen really the man who was meant to pick up Haaland at corners? If so, ten Hag needs his bumps felt. The striker lost him as easily as one might baffle a two-year-old in a game of hide and seek, and De Bruyne put the ball straight on his head from the corner. Haaland outjumped McTominay and Malacia could not retrieve the ball before it crossed the line. The outcome was no longer in doubt; just the margin.
Which continued to grow. In the 38th minute, De Bruyne sped forward. A shot was on, but difficult. Feeding Foden on the overlap to his right was another option, and easy to achieve. De Bruyne tried plan C – an incredible curling ball to Haaland, who had checked his run to stay onside, and was haring towards the far post. De Bruyne had no right to find him, Haaland had no right to get there. But he slid and a giant boot meant he got the better of Varane, too. Soon after, the Frenchman left the field injured. He would have paid to get out of there by that stage.
And still City were not finished. De Bruyne and Haaland were a lethal set-up and finishing team, but this time they both combined in the service of Foden. De Bruyne put Haaland away and his cross fed Foden at the far post for his second of the game. Even when United got three back in the second-half – a fabulous shot by Antony the best of them, before Anthony Martial scored late with a header and a penalty– the noise level did not drop. ‘The city is ours,’ they sung. And a lot more, no doubt, before the season is out.
Scroll down to see how it all unfolded with Sportsmail’s live runner.