The marauding Norwegian put an end to West Ham’s stubborn resistance when he scored with a graceful shot into the net after 70 minutes, becoming the most prolific scorer in a single Premier League season.
He also brought his number of goals in all competitions for City in a mind-boggling debut season to 51 – about one for every million pounds City paid Borussia Dortmund for his signature.
Unbelievable. He’s only 22 years old and he has five more games to play, City manager Pep Guardiola said. ‘We expected him to score goals, but to break Cole and Shearer’s records…he’s special.
Pursuing triumph City, who started the evening in second place after Arsenal’s defeat to Chelsea on Tuesday, failed to hit the box twice as they disappointed West Ham, who are in danger of relegation, in the first half.
But Nathan Ake made the breakthrough five minutes after halftime with a header from a free kick.
Haaland then relieved the pressure at Etihad Stadium when he slid in Jack Grealish’s ball, beat Lukasz Fabianski and surpassed the 34-goal mark he shared with Andy Cole and Alan Shearer with five games to go.
Substitute Phil Foden made the score 3-0 in the 85th minute with a superb strike.
City, seeking their fifth title in six seasons under Pep Guardiola, have 79 points from 33 games, Arsenal have 78 points with one more game to play. If they beat Leeds United at home on Saturday, they will move up four places.
West Ham remain in 15th place, four points above the relegation zone.
David Moyes’ team expected a siege and were not disappointed: they spent almost the entire first half deep in their own half, repelling wave after wave of City attacks.
City rushed forward, Julian Alvarez and Riyad Mahrez forced Fabianski to make routine early saves, and Haaland headed the ball over the crossbar from Grealish.
West Ham, hampered by the absence of midfielders Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, defended courageously and the colossal Angelo Ogbonna kicked one ball after another.
Arsenal fans may have begun to believe the soccer gods were smiling on them when Grealish’s shot hit the post, and a few minutes later Rodri’s shot hit the post and flew agonizingly over the goal.
Guardiola was scratching his bald head when City failed to convert hisand 80% possession of the ball in the result.The hosts were frightened when Jarrod Bowen burst into the area and forced Ederson into an accurate shot after a rare West Ham foray forward.
The old routine
West Ham finally scored five minutes after the break, and that goal infuriated Moyes.
After such stubborn opposition, they were ruined by a good old routine – Mahrez’s free kick was headed to the far post and Dutch defender Ake had no trouble getting his header past Fabianski.
West Ham still looked capable of adding a twist to the title fight scenario until Grealish released Haaland for his landmark moment.
Foden then graced his team’s ninth consecutive league victory, scoring his 1,000th goal during Guardiola’s reign at City.
But the evening belonged to Haaland, who was given a guard of honor as he departed to the cheers of City fans, and Dixie Dean’s record of 63 goals in a season in all competitions for Everton in 1927-28 was confidently surpassed.
In addition to five league games, City reached the semifinals of the Champions League and the FA Cup final.