MANCHESTER, England – Only an act of restraint by Pep Guardiola denied Erling Haaland an almost certain second hat-trick in as many games as Manchester City thrashed Copenhagen 5-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Norwegian scored twice in the first half in the Group G match to take his season total to 19 in 12 games in all competitions.
But he was not to score his fourth hat-trick of the campaign as Guardiola pulled him back at half-time, giving City a 3-0 lead and the contest effectively over.
Holland, who scored three goals in Sunday’s 6-3 win over Manchester United, will have to visit the sidelines as City continue their demolition of the Danish champions.
Riyad Mahrez scored in the second half from the penalty spot in the 10th minute after Marko Steminic had tripped Emerick Laporte.
City could and should have added several more goals, with Jack Grealish repeatedly going close either side of the break – but Julian Alvarez made it 5-0 when he headed home Mahrez’s cross in the 76th minute.
The Premier League champions were in front after just seven minutes – Holland powered a first-time shot past Kamil Grabara after good work from Joao Cancelo.
He doubled the lead in the 32nd minute – tapping into an empty net after Sergio Gomez’s shot was deflected by Grabara.
Holland looked to have completed his hat-trick when City made it 3-0 six minutes before half-time – but Gomez’s effort was met by Copenhagen defender David Khochulava’s header with the striker on target.
It was tough on Grabara, who ensured his team escaped a heavy defeat with his impressive saves.
The win continued City’s 100 per cent record in Group G, three points clear of Borussia Dortmund, who beat Sevilla 4-1.