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Five-star Haaland leads City rout

Norwegian star back to his ruthless best as treble chase gathers pace

Updated: 2024-02-29 09:11
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Erling Haaland walks off with the match ball — as is traditional after scoring a hat-trick or more — following Manchester City's FA Cup win at Luton Town on Tuesday. [ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS]

Erling Haaland looks determined to make up for lost time.

The Norway striker scored five goals to power Manchester City into the quarterfinals of the FA Cup in a 6-2 win over Luton Town on Tuesday.

It was his eighth hat-trick in a season and a half with City and the second time he has scored five in a single game for the club.

Perhaps more significantly, it was evidence that Haaland is fully back up to speed after recently returning from a foot injury that ruled him out for more than a month between December and January.

"My fitness is getting back to its best finally," he said. "I feel good. It's an amazing feeling."

Haaland had scored only three goals in seven appearances since making his comeback on Jan 31.

By his remarkable standards, that represented a relative drought, but he looked back to his devastating best at Kenilworth Road with a first-half hat-trick and two more after the break. Four of those goals came from assists by Kevin De Bruyne, who has also missed large parts of the season through injury.

"It's a pleasure playing with him," Haaland said. "I think we know what we both want from each other, we look at each other and it clicks well."

Mateo Kovacic added a sixth for City, while Jordan Clark struck twice for Luton.

Haaland was denied a possible double hat-trick when he was replaced by Julian Alvarez in the 77th minute. It was the second time City manager Pep Guardiola substituted the striker after scoring five goals, having taken him off during the 7-0 rout of RB Leipzig in the Champions League last year.

Haaland now has 27 goals in all competitions for the season after scoring 52 in his first year at the club.

"Erling was on fire and Kevin was perfect," was Guardiola's verdict. "The connection they have. Erling needs a player like Kevin and Kevin needs a player like Erling."

His performance and linkup play with De Bruyne will also fuel the belief City can emulate last season's treble of trophies when it won the Premier League title, FA Cup and Champions League.

"We're coming. Exciting times (are) ahead," Haaland said.

The forward completed his treble after 40 minutes, having opened the scoring in the third and adding a second in the 18th.

Clark pulled one back for Luton in the 45th and made it 3-2 with another seven minutes after halftime.

But Haaland quickly extended City's lead with further goals in the 55th and 58th.

Kovacic completed the scoring with a long-range effort in the 72nd.

Shootout drama

Newcastle United avoided a potential upset at Blackburn Rovers but needed penalties to overcome the second-division team.

Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka pushed away Dominic Hyam's spot-kick at the end of the shootout to secure a 4-3 win on penalties after the game had finished 1-1 through extra time.

Anthony Gordon fired Newcastle ahead in the 71st at Ewood Park, but the lead only lasted eight minutes when Sammie Szmodics leveled for Blackburn.

Saudi-backed Newcastle has endured a troubled season in the league and currently sits 10th in the standings after a fourth-place finish last year.

But victory over Blackburn means it is still in contention to win its first piece of major domestic silverware since the FA Cup in 1955.

Foxes on the prowl

Abdul Fatawu fired Leicester City to a 1-0 win over Premier League team Bournemouth with a stunning extra-time goal.

Substitute Fatawu struck in the 105th — curling a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Leicester won the FA Cup in 2021 but has slumped since then and was relegated to the second division last season. The Foxes are aiming to bounce straight back up and showed their credentials with the win at Bournemouth.




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