Erling Haaland scored twice on his Premier League debut for Manchester City in a routine 2-0 win away to West Ham United.
After a decent start from the Hammers, the reigning Premier League champions dominated and hardly put a foot wrong with their passing in the first half.
A key moment was goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who had started the game well, being forced off with an injury around the half hour mark to be replaced by Alphonse Areola.
And it was Areola who conceded a penalty on 36 minutes after clumsily bringing down Haaland. The Norwegian picked himself up to dispatch the spot-kick coolly into the bottom corner to open his account for City.
David Moyes, whose starting XI had contained none of his summer signings, did bring on new Italian striker Gianluca Scamacca around the hour mark with his side looking to punish some uncharacteristically sloppy passing from the visitors.
And the Hammers did improve but Haaland killed the game off with a well-taken low finish after running onto Kevin De Bruyne’s through-ball to make it a debut to remember.
Manchester City defeated West Ham 2-0 at the London Stadium on Sunday to kick off the defence of their Premier League title in ideal fashion.
Erling Haaland scored both of the goals on his Premier League debut, with a strike in either half.
City dominated the early parts of the game as they gradually looked to break West Ham down, with Haaland eventually being the architect.
The first goal came from the spot, a penalty that Haaland himself had won by beating Alphonse Areola to the ball. He picked up the ball and calmly slotted it into the corner for his first Premier League goal.
In the second half, Kevin De Bruyne waved his wand and produced a perfect through ball that took advantage of the Norwegian’s pace. The striker didn’t even need to take a touch – he simply opened his body and curled the ball around the onrushing Areola to seal the points for his side.
Haaland constantly looked hungry for more and came close to his hat-trick goal when he met Jack Grealish’s cross from the left but his header was too strong and it flew over the bar.
It was a comfortable day’s work for City at a place they only managed to draw towards the end of last season, and Pep Guardiola will be delighted with the result and performance.
But after an initial quiet period in the early exchanges at the London Stadium, he soon showed just why City paid £51 million to bring him in as their main man up top after two seasons without a recognised striker.
The 22-year-old opened his account in the 35th minute with a superbly slotted penalty that he won after a blistering bit of pace in behind saw him latch onto Ilkay Gundogan’s pass and bring the foul from substitute goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
But it was his second strike that will have the Premier League on alert. In the 65th minute, Kevin De Bruyne fizzed in a delicious pass that took out the entire Hammers backline.
Haaland put those extraordinarily big strides to good use by racing clear and providing a clinical first-time finish.
Erling Haaland won the penalty, Erling Haaland scored the penalty.
In Premier League history, only one other player has done that on his debut. Alexandre Pato for Chelsea against Aston Villa, April 2, 2016. OK, so that isn’t the greatest omen.
Pato did not score for Chelsea again, and only featured for them in other game. He ended up in China with Tianjin Quanjian and for the last two seasons has played in the MLS at Orlando City.
Yet we already know anti-climax is unlikely to be Haaland’s fate, not least because 30 minutes after scoring his first he added a second. So this was quite the arrival. It was, in fact, what many feared might happen, a signing that could transform Manchester City, making them even stronger, perhaps close to unbeatable.
It’s too early to draw such dramatic conclusions but the hope after the Community Shield defeat that Haaland might disturb Manchester City’s precious equilibrium has all but evaporated. This was the true start to the reason and City looked an extraordinarily good side, made ever better by Haaland’s defining presence.