Erling Haaland brilliant in debut, Ilkay Gundogan dazzles as Man City open season with dominant win at West Ham

LONDON – Welcome to the Premier League, Erling Haaland! Borussia Dortmund’s big summer signing scored both goals – including a penalty – to give Man City a 2-0 win over West Ham in the holders’ season opener.

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ESPN’s Mark Ogden has the reaction to a comfortable win for Pep Guardiola’s side in London.

GO TO: Player Ratings | Best/worst performance | Highlights and Notable Moments | Quotes after the game | Key Statistics | Upcoming appointments

Fast reaction

Haaland makes a dream start on his Premier League debut

Erling Haaland has huge pressure on his shoulders at Manchester City this season, which means he needed to make a big impact as soon as possible following his £51m transfer from Borussia Dortmund. In the end, it wasn’t a bad way to introduce himself as he scored twice on his Premier League debut.

While Haaland’s fee is likely to be seen as a bargain in modern football, the 22-year-old has yet to prove he’s as good as his reputation suggests and that’s where the pressure will largely come from. And after failing to score in last week’s Community Shield loss to Liverpool – despite missing some easy chances – a failure against West Ham would have only added to the expectation. But Haaland scored both goals as City made a winning start to their title defense and their star signing showed he will be a great addition to Pep Guardiola’s team.

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His first was from the penalty spot after his clever run past the Hammers defense was singled out by Ilkay Gundogan. After showing impressive pace to put Hammer’s backup goalkeeper Alphonse Areola on the ball and earning the penalty, Haaland sent it the wrong way from the spot with a precise penalty that nestled into the corner of the net. Meanwhile, his second was a classic striker goal, one that highlighted his pace, movement and nervous ability to beat a keeper in a one-on-one situation. Running to Kevin De Bruyne’s defence-splitting pass, Haaland was able to open his body and take down Areola with a left footed shot into the far corner that sealed City’s win.

Haaland was signed to make the difference for City in the big games and score at will in the others. It’s fair to say he already lives up to the job description.

An ominous performance from Man City

Manchester City lost their opener last season with a 1-0 defeat in London at Tottenham but 12 months later they returned to the capital and started with a flawless 2-0 win at West Ham that is already worrying their rivals will how to keep up with Pep Guardiola’s squad.

Last season’s false start didn’t affect the outcome of the title race, with City finishing ahead of Liverpool on the final day, but Guardiola’s side were slowly coming off the blocks, winning just four of their first seven games. However, if their good performance against West Ham is any indication of what is to come, the chasing group will need to sprint to keep up.

The win at the London Stadium certainly wasn’t rusty. Erling Haaland’s two goals put the spotlight on the newcomer, adding even more clout to a side that have already scored many goals. Kevin De Bruyne was outstanding and Ruben Dias was impressive at the back. In terms of dominance of the game, there have been times when City have enjoyed more than 75% possession and this was against a West Ham side who almost achieved a top six finish last season. It wasn’t an easy start for City, but they made it look effortless.

If they can thrash West Ham with such ease then the majority of the Premier League won’t stand a chance.

West Ham will take care of Rice until deadline day

West Ham have spent over £100m on signings so far this summer but their number one deal has been keeping Declan Rice – at least for now.

The 23-year-old, who was made captain following the retirement of Mark Noble, had a stellar season for the Hammers as they reached the Europa League semi-finals last season and he was again the key man for David Moyes’ side against City. Rice is the definition of an all-action midfielder and despite the scorching heat of the opening weekend, he still worked tirelessly from box to box, winning tackles and making crucial interceptions.

But while he remains a West Ham player, there is still time for a bigger, wealthier club to make a move for the England international this month, and there are two in particular – Chelsea and Manchester United – who are longtime admirers of Rice and both of whom still are Need reinforcement in midfield. With two years left on his contract, West Ham may have to sack Rice next summer if he can’t agree on a new deal, but if a big offer comes in before the August 31 transfer deadline, it could be tempting for both West his ham and rice to make the move possible. But based on his performance against City, Rice would immediately improve on United or Chelsea.

Player Ratings

West Ham: Lukasz Fabianski 6; Vladimir Coufal6, Ben Johnson6, Kurt Zouma6, Aaron Cresswell5; Declan Reis 8, Tomas Soucek 7; Jarrod Bowen 7, Manuel Lanzini 5, Pablo Fornals 5; MichaelAntonio 5.
Subtitle: Alphonse Areola 5, Said Benrahma 6, Gianluca Scamacca 5, Flynn Downes 5, Conor Coventry 5.

Man City: Ederson 7; Kyle Walker 7, Ruben Dias 7, Nathan Ake 7, Joao Cancelo 7; Ilkay Gundogan 9, Rodri 7, Kevin de Bruyne 8; Phil Foden 7, Erling Haaland 8, Jack Grealish 7.
Subtitle: Bernardo Silva (6), Julian Alvarez (6), Riyad Mahrez (6).

Best and worst performers

BEST: Ilkay Gundogan, Manchester City

Guardiola’s all-star team is always better when Ilkay Gundogan is in the squad and the German midfielder took charge of the game for Guardiola at the London Stadium. His pass to Haaland in the first half saw the striker win a penalty from which City took the lead and while it was a clever run from the Norway international only a player as intelligent as Gundogan could produce a pass to take the run pay off.

WORST: Alphonse Areola, West Ham

Coming in from cold off the bench is never an easy task for a substitute goalkeeper, so West Ham keeper Areola can at least point to his lack of preparation for his underperformance. But the former Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper, who replaced the injured Lukasz Fabianski in the 29th minute, gave City the opener just seven minutes after coming on as a substitute when he sped off his line and fouled Erling Haaland with a reckless fall that ended Penalty led the striker scored.

He was also beaten too easily by Haaland for City’s second place, marking a day to forget for the Hammers number two.

Highlights and notable moments

Haaland is obviously making headlines for a near-flawless Premier League debut.

Meanwhile, take it from one legendary goalscorer to the next: if anyone knows what it takes to be an elite striker, it would be the former England and Tottenham star himself…

After the game: what the managers, players said

“There were some good celebrations, so I’m happy. Nice that he [Dad – Alfie] saw both goals because it’s a big moment for me as a debutant in this competition. Also, it’s been almost 30 minutes since I scored the last goal, so I have to keep going.” – Man City striker Erling Haaland

Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

  • Erling Haaland scores on his Premier League debut; This is the third season in a row that he has scored in his side’s league opener (he has scored twice in the last two season openers with Dortmund). He is also the second Manchester City player, after Sergio Aguero in August 2011, to score a brace on his Premier League debut

  • Manchester City extends unbeaten streak to 19 games (15-0-4 WLD); their last such defeat was at Tottenham (August 2021)

  • Manchester City extend their Premier League unbeaten streak against West Ham to 14 games (11-0-3 WLD), making them the longest active streak of its kind against a single opponent. (14, v Fulham)

  • Manchester City have won 6 of their 7 opening PL games under Pep Guardiola. Meanwhile, their opponents West Ham have done the opposite, losing 6 of their last 7 opening Premier League games

  • Manchester City: won all 4 top-flight meetings against West Ham in the season’s opening game (13-0 on aggregate).


West Ham: The Hammers have little rest early on as they have three games over the next two weeks. They travel to newly promoted Nottingham Forest in the Premier League (14 August) before facing the first leg of their play-off opponents in the UEFA Europa Conference League at home (18 August) and then Brighton (21 August) in the Premier League received. (Their European opponent? Either Viborg of Denmark or Faroe Islands champions B36 Torshavn, although the latter is 3-0 down on aggregate in their two-legged streak.)

Man City: The road ahead looks fairly manageable for Guardiola & Co as they host Bournemouth at their home game (13 August) before traveling to Newcastle (21 August). Erling Haaland brilliant in debut, Ilkay Gundogan dazzles as Man City open season with dominant win at West Ham

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