Man City 6 Burnley 0: Haaland puts Championship leaders to the sword with ANOTHER hat-trick in FA Cup quarter-final
I started with a hug and a handshake – and ended with a bloody nose and a dose of harsh reality.
Welcome back Vincent. Now let’s not forget who’s the master and who’s the student here, huh?
A standing ovation from the fans who have revered him for 11 years and the warmest embraces from Pep Guardiola ahead of this sixth-round showdown.
Then an end to kindness and a jab for the jugular, as Erling Haaland led the charge for the throat and it all became just another day at the office for Guardiola and his City slickers.
And a painful blow in the chops for Kompany’s Clarets as to what awaits them once they return to the rarefied atmosphere of the Premier League.
It actually got so cruel by the end that you half expected a towel to float in front of Burnley’s dugout.
If referee John Brooks had had an ounce of compassion, he would have stopped so soon. An FA Cup tie that was a real contest for over half an hour eventually turned into an exhibition.
In the end City were so top and Burnley so intimidated that the home side could have been bullied.
If this was an audition for which some Clarets from Kompany were set to join him on the trip back to the Promised Land next season, it would have to be said that not many people would have pulled it off.
To be fair, for 33 minutes they must have started wondering what the fuss was about with the Premier League, City and that supposed goalscoring machine called Haaland.
Devastating and clinical first two minutes told them exactly what… let your guard down for a split second with him and it’s the curtain.
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So all of a sudden, halftime pats on the back all around because the finger points to who’s gone where and when. Haaland does that on one side.
Twice they gave him half a yard in the first half. Both times he punished them in the deadliest way. They did it again in the second half and guess what? Yet the same.
A cruel nudge in the ribs for Kompany and his crew, too, while you can get away with it in the championship, when it comes to this level, not a chance.
Take City’s opener, for example. A direct ball through the middle of Julian Alvarez, and Haaland was on Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
A shoulder dive, the hint of a shimmy and a kick under the keeper with the outside of his left boot.
Two minutes later the Norwegian was back, Peacock-Farrell were beaten again and City were in the FA Cup semi-finals… again.
This time the creation was a little more elaborate, with Kevin De Bruyne clearing Phil Foden down the left with a slide rule ball inside Connor Roberts.
Foden looked up, took aim and launched the perfect low cross which Haaland met at just the right moment to sidestep from close range.
Game over, therefore, before half-time. Incredibly after Burnley looked to have done the donkey job of weathering an early storm. It worked well then.
Before they knew it, Haaland was completing his sixth hat-trick of the season, taking his tally to EIGHT in two games and pocketing yet another match ball.
Again Foden was the creator, this time with a bubbly low drive that hit the upright and was clinically dispatched by the Norwegian’s one-touch finish.
As if to prove that the quick first half was not unique, City then produced another to make it four.
Riyad Mahrez and De Bruyne were the architects and Alverez the finisher, crashing into an empty net with the Clarets wide open.
So it’s time for Haaland to take a break. Not a bad week of work, all told, to go along with the five Champions League goals he assisted against Leipzig on Tuesday.
And to think they all scoffed when it was first suggested he could turn 50 in his first season in England.
Last night’s siesta hand has already left him on 42. At the rate it’s going, he’ll be disappointed if his journey ends at “only” half a century.
City certainly didn’t stop with his departure, and Cole Palmer – the man who replaced Haaland – got in on the act by flying into an empty net.
Alvarez finished the game with a sixth from close range, before referee Brooks finally called off the penalty.
Although for Kompany, you somehow imagine that it will take a little longer for the pain to subside.