- Lillo lavished Haaland with praise
- Backed striker to score as many as last season
- Norwegian scored first hat-trick in six months
WHAT HAPPENED? The Norwegian scored his first hat-trick of the season in Manchester City's 5-1 routing of Fulham to make it six goals from his opening four Premier League games. He now has as many as he had at the same stage of the last campaign, when he went on to score a record 36 league goals and an outrageous 52 in all competitions.
WHAT THEY SAID: "This guy was born to score goals so it would be no surprise if he gets those same figures, but it doesn’t matter," said City assistant coach Juanma Lillo. "He’s great at providing for other players, he gave one assist today, he has this importance to other players, it’s not just about scoring goals. I’m more impressed by other figures as well, not just if he ends up scoring. I always looked at his intelligence as well as his goal-scoring."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Haaland missed a penalty last week at Sheffield United but made no mistake from the spot against Bernd Leno to score his second goal. Lillo, who is taking charge of City while Pep Guardiola recovers from back surgery, praised the striker's personality.
"Erling is a strong character, there was no doubt in our mind he was going to take it, he’s scored many goals from penalties, had we got another penalty in the previous game we’d have given it to him," he said. "The penalty he took last week wasn’t a bad penalty, he hit it low, it hit the post, they can easily hit the post and go in."
AND WHAT'S MORE: Lillo also revealed he had told Haaland, who had not scored in the first half, to stay calm and try to score, adding: "Today in the first half none of the team played well, we didn’t find the freshness and our opponents kept the ball well, it would have been difficult for any No. 9. I said in the break: 'This is not an easy game, but you can still help us by scoring and he scored three'."
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty
WHAT NEXT FOR ERLING HAALAND? The striker will be in international action for Norway against Jordan and Georgia on September 7 and September 12. City return to Premier League action on September 16 away to West Ham.