BURNLEY, England (Reuters) – Manchester City striker Erling Haaland wasted no time opening his account for the new Premier League season with two goals as the champions began with a 3-0 stroll against promoted Burnley at Turf Moor on Friday.
Haaland, who bagged a Premier League season-record 36 goals and a total of 52 in all competitions for treble winners City last season, slotted his side in front after four minutes.
A stunning finish by the Norwegian in the 36th put City in cruise control with the only blot on their copybook being an injury to Kevin de Bruyne that forced him off in the first half.
Rodri drove home City’s third from close range after 75 minutes to make it a chastening return to the top flight for a Burnley side managed by former City captain Vincent Kompany.
To complete the home side’s misery they had substitute Anass Zaroury sent off in stoppage time for an ugly tackle on Kyle Walker, the decision being upgraded from a yellow card by referee Craig Pawson after a VAR check.
If anyone thought 23-year-old Haaland might struggle to match the record-smashing exploits of his first season in England, or whether it might take him a while to get up to speed, they were given an immediate answer.
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He looked razor sharp from the opening whistle as City, who had no new faces in their starting lineup, sent out an early warning to any side trying to prevent them from winning a fourth successive English title.
Haaland’s opening goal was a typical poacher’s effort, pouncing to jab a shot past goalkeeper James Trafford after Rodri headed a De Bruyne cross back into the area.
Burnley recovered from that early setback quite well and almost punished City for some sloppiness when Lyle Foster curled a shot past the far post.
De Bruyne did not last much longer though, limping off to be replaced by new signing Mateo Kovacic. But that did not disrupt City’s rhythm and they doubled their lead when a patient build-up ended with Julian Alvarez teeing up Haaland who dispatched a clinical curling effort with his left foot into the net via the far post.
The second half was a lessen in game management by City who were content to run the legs out of Burnley. They added a third when Rodri, scorer of the goal in the Champions League final exactly two months ago that sealed City’s treble, thumped home after Burnley failed to deal with a set-piece played into their penalty area.
Haaland was substituted late on while City also offered a late cameo to new defensive signing Josko Gvardiol.