Manchester City 5-1 Wolves: Formidable Haaland helps City pile pressure on Arsenal

Erling Haaland’s four-goal haul buoyed Manchester City to a 5-1 victory over Wolves, with goals from Julián Álvarez and a consolation from Hwang Hee-chan rounding out a huge result for the champions. 

As it happened

It’s unusual to find Manchester City chasing in the month of May, but that’s exactly the situation they find themselves in. Four points adrift of leaders Arsenal but with two games in hand, the onus was on the Boys in Blue to keep the pressure on the league leaders. But this is Manchester City: the run in is their bread and butter.

If Wolves expected to get a touch of the ball in the opening exchanges, they were sorely mistaken. Without Gary O’Neil in the technical area, the visitors had to rely on assistant manager Mick Jenkins on the sidelines. Unfortunately for them, it was a case of no O’Neil, no party: City dominated, and it didn’t take them long to turn possession into goals. 

Rodri would try his luck from the edge of the area in the eighth minute, with a fizzing shot missing the target, but it was City’s second chance that would pay dividends – but not without a slice of controversy. 

A cross into the area found Joško Gvardiol, who swung an effort over the bar. But, Wolves’ left wingback Rayan Aït-Nouri smashed into him, and after complaints from the City players, referee Stuart Attwell pointed to the spot. 

Was it a foul? Was it a coming together? Well, Erling Haaland didn’t care, slipping his penalty into the bottom left corner. José Sá went the wrong way, and City had their lead on 12 minutes.

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With just under 60% possession in the opening 20 minutes, the Cityzens were well on top. Wolves couldn’t build a Lego set, let alone a cohesive chance. Attempts to play out came and attempts to play out fell apart, as City pounced on countless possessive errors.

FWA Player of the Season Phil Foden tried his luck from a free kick in the 21st minute, but it flew wide of the far post. It was only after this that Wolves would keep the ball for any amount of time, but a promising five-minute spell came to nothing; they didn’t have a single shot in the first half.

It took the champions until the 35th minute to find their next big chance and, as usual when Erling Haaland is involved, it would be dispatched: Rodri sent in a wonderful cross, and the Norwegian executed a Ronaldo-esque leap to loop the header over a helpless Sá for his and City’s second goal of the game. 

Only nine minutes later, they were up in arms again, with Haaland through on goal and down after a challenge from Nelson Semedo, who clipped the forward’s standing foot. After five minutes of deliberations, Atwell went to the screen and the penalty was awarded.

Having only missed one spot kick this season, there are no prizes for guessing the result of his second of the game: same corner, same outcome, and City were three to the good by the break.

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Wolves knew they’d have to change tact for the second half, and with the introduction of Jeanricner Bellegarde, they certainly did that. 

Having failed to muster a single shot in the first half, they’d score with their first of the second. Bellegarde’s teasing ball crossed paths with Ederson, but the keeper could only lazily parry it to Hwang Hee-chan who, after working with scraps in the first half, had no issues slotting a calm finish into the empty goal to give his side one back on 53 minutes. 

Comeback on? Well, not quite. 

It took City only one minute to restore the three-goal lead. Ederson would make up for his mistake almost immediately, finding Foden with a pinpoint pass, before the Englishman did the same to Haaland. The former Dortmund man still had a lot to do though, but Kilman wasn’t tight enough as he allowed his adversary to cut past him and curl a devastating finish past a flailing Sá.

From then on out, it was all City. Kevin De Bruyne’s incisive balls caused constant issues and Phil Foden was impossible to tackle. It was a champion’s performance in the second half, as their dominance was asserted. 

Changes were made and chances were spurned; Haaland was denied by the feet of Kilman, the hands of Sá and the head of Toti Gomes, and Foden could never quite find the space or power to put his name on the scoresheet. 

In the end, it was a substitute who put the cherry on top. Haaland, denied the chance to score his fifth, could only watch on as his replacement Julián Álvarez latched onto another Rodri through ball to slide a guided finish past Sá who, despite making no fewer than seven saves, had a miserable outing come fulltime.

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With the rest of the substitutions merely incidental in their impacts, the final whistle was blown, and Wolves were finally put out of their misery. 

For Manchester City, it’s a huge result, but it’s what we’ve come to expect in their pursuit of a fourth consecutive Premier League title. They now sit one point behind Arsenal with a tricky trip to Spurs their game in hand. 

And, while it was a pride-hurting defeat for the visitors, Wolves’ season won’t be derailed on the back of this result. They host Crystal Palace next week, with their best possible finish now ninth place. 

The lineups

MCI: Ederson; Gvardiol, Aké, Akanji, Walker; Rodri, Foden, Kovačić, De Bruyne, Bernardo; Haaland

WOL: Sá, Bueno, Toti, Kilman, Aït-Nouri, Semedo; Traoré, Lemona, Gomes; Cunha, Hwang