Published: 12:41, August 9, 2022 | Updated: 12:41, August 9, 2022
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Haaland's dream debut an ominous sign for rivals
By Agencies

Norwegian warns more to come as City begins title defense in style

Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates after the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Manchester City at the London Stadium in London, England, Aug 7, 2022. (FRANK AUGSTEIN / AP)

Manchester City's new signing Erling Haaland has been quick to adapt to the English Premier League champion's style of play, manager Pep Guardiola said after the Norwegian's double earned a 2-0 win over West Ham United on Sunday.

Haaland made his league debut by scoring a goal in each half, including a penalty in the first period, as City began its title defense in impressive fashion at the London Stadium.

"We didn't have any doubt a guy who has scored goals since he was born that he would score goals here," Guardiola told Sky Sports about the 22-year-old striker who joined City from Borussia Dortmund in the offseason.

"Haaland gives us his qualities. We are not going to change much, we will adapt, we know we have a threat there. He is an incredible deep runner and finisher.

"He is adapting perfectly in the way we want to play. We are going to find him more and more and hopefully we can give him the opportunity to score more goals."

West Ham manager David Moyes said his team had been outfoxed by City, who dominated possession in Sunday's game.

"They were so good. I felt that tactically they completely outdid us today," Moyes said.

"It was a case of trying to stay in the game. It was only 1-0 at halftime with a penalty and it gave us an opportunity and a chance.

"I felt like we had not played well enough so I wanted to try and change the run of the game. We got a little bit more of the ball for about five minutes. They were far better than us and we couldn't cope today."

Haaland said he is only getting started after scoring twice on his Premier League debut.

The Norwegian won and then coolly slotted home a penalty to open the scoring before latching onto Kevin De Bruyne's through-ball to become the first City player to score twice on his league debut since Sergio Aguero.

"It's about the connections we do every day in training. This will come even more so I'm not worried," said Haaland. "It could have been more."

Haaland is seen as the successor to Aguero, who is the club's all-time leading scorer.

Guardiola's men won the Premier League for the past two seasons largely playing without a central striker and the City boss was delighted with how quickly the move for Haaland paid off.

"Erling is a good finisher and he is adapting perfectly," said Guardiola.

"He was good. I can't teach him to score goals and he just needs to be comfortable."

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo walks on the field at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Brighton at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Aug 7, 2022. Brighton won 2-1. (DAVE THOMPSON / AP)

Ten Hag misery

While Haaland didn't need much time at all to show what kind of impact he will have at City, Erik ten Hag pleaded for time after starting his Manchester United reign with a disappointing loss.

The two biggest offseason arrivals in Manchester got off to starkly different starts on Sunday.

Ten Hag looked grim-faced on the sideline as the Dutch coach watched United slump to a 2-1 loss to Brighton at Old Trafford, with his side being outplayed in the first half before a second-half rally came up short.

Ten Hag was brought in by United to help close the gap to its crosstown rival, having finished 35 points behind champion City in the league last season.

If anything, the gap seems to have only grown-thanks largely to Haaland.

The Norwegian was recruited to provide City with a clear focal point in attack, with Guardiola having spent much of last season playing without a recognized striker.

And the towering Haaland-who scored 86 goals in 89 games during his three seasons at Dortmund to establish himself as one of the most-wanted players in Europe-will clearly add yet another dimension to a team that still led the league in scoring last season with 99 goals.

United fans, meanwhile, are still waiting to see what kind of impact Ten Hag will have after a dispiriting performance against Brighton that showed that many of the team's old weaknesses still remain.

"Definitely a setback, a real disappointment," said former Ajax boss Ten Hag. "I knew from the start it will not be easy. And it's a process, it takes time. But you don't have time, we have to win games. We should have done better."

Pascal Gross scored twice in the first half to put Brighton in control and United looked toothless and short of ideas until Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench early in the second half.

With Ronaldo giving the attack a little spark, United pulled one back through an own-goal by Alexis Mac Allister after goalkeeper Robert Sanchez failed to punch away a corner.

Ronaldo continues to be linked with an Old Trafford exit following his summer transfer request, but asked about the Portuguese's impact on Sunday's game, Ten Hag said: "It was clear to see that the second half, we were better in midfield with (Christian) Eriksen down (the pitch) and Ronaldo up.

"Then we created and (Marcus) Rashford had two really good chances. It's a pity we didn't score them for 2-2."

Ronaldo was named on the bench on Sunday as he continues to work his way back to full fitness after missing a chunk of United's preseason friendlies for "personal reasons".

"It (Ronaldo's fitness) takes time, you cannot force it," Ten Hag added. "He has had one week of training so is a little bit more and he has to do more to get fit. This game will help him with 35 or 40 minutes. Now we have one week and he will be better next week."

United's players were booed off the field by the home fans after a performance that dispelled any notion that Ten Hag could provide an instant fix to the many issues that plagued the team last season.

If there was an issue that City needed to fix, Haaland seems to have provided the answer.

Haaland, whose father Alfie is a former City player and was in the stands on Sunday, is already looking right at home-although he still has a bit to learn about which words he can use on TV in Britain.

His postgame interview on Sky Sports had to be bleeped twice because of expletives.

After Liverpool was held to a draw by Fulham on Saturday, City sent an early warning that it remains the team to beat in England. And with Haaland up front, it will be even more difficult to wrest the title away from Guardiola's team.