Erling Haaland backed away from his marker, set himself with his back to goal, and leapt high to deliver an acrobatic scissor-kick into the bottom corner.
Tap-ins, headers, majestic flying volleys … the Manchester City striker really can do anything.
Haaland took his tally of English Premier League goals in his first season with City to 30 with a double in a 4-1 victory at Southampton that kept the pressure on Arsenal in the title race on Saturday.
His first goal, a close-range header, couldn’t have been easier. His second simply took the breath away.
After meeting Jack Grealish’s cross with that stunning volley, Haaland sat on the ground and celebrated with a zen pose. Before long, he was laughing at the brilliance of his own goal — his 44th in all competitions for City this season.
City, who also got goals from Grealish and Julian Alvarez, could still have 18 more matches to play if they go all the way in the FA Cup and Champions League. Fifty goals looks almost inevitable for Haaland.
“We lived two incredible decades with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi,” City manager Pep Guardiola said, “but Haaland is on that level.”
City made it eight straight victories in all competitions to really put the pressure on Arsenal, who take a five-point lead into their match at Liverpool on Sunday.
The race for third and fourth place is heating up, too, with Newcastle, Manchester United and Tottenham all winning.
Newcastle came from behind to beat Brentford 2-1 thanks to an own goal by David Raya and a strike by Alexander Isak, while Manchester United overwhelmed Everton 2-0 at Old Trafford.
Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial scored United’s goals in a match that ended with a big injury concern as Marcus Rashford hobbled off with a suspected groin problem.
Newcastle, in third, and Man United, in fourth, are tied for points and have three more than Tottenham, who beat Brighton 2-1 courtesy of Harry Kane’s winner, his 23rd goal of the season.
Both team managers — Tottenham’s Cristian Stellini and Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi — were issued red cards for a touchline scuffle by the time Kane scored with a fierce drive in the 79th.
At Molineux, the return to Chelsea that Frank Lampard would have hoped for never materialised.
His second spell as the team’s manager started with a 1-0 loss at Wolves, Matheus Nunes scoring with a rasping, first-time strike into the far corner.
“There has been a lot of change and that’s not an excuse but things need to improve,” caretaker coach Lampard said, “and I think that performance summed it up.”
Prince William, an Aston Villa fan, and his oldest child, Prince George, were at Villa Park to see if the team could continue its regal form in the league. They weren’t disappointed.
Villa climbed to sixth place after beating Nottingham Forest 2-0, Ollie Watkins continuing his hot streak with a stoppage-time goal to seal victory and take him to nine in his last 11 games.
Elsewhere, Harry Souttar has been dropped by Leicester City for the first time as his club, managerless and increasingly desperate, plunged even deeper into the Premier League relegation mire.
The Foxes’ caretaker bosses, Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell, in their first and possibly last team selection following the sacking of Brendan Rodgers, caused surprise by ditching the big Socceroo defender, who had been omnipresent since arriving from Stoke at the end of the January transfer window.
A Rodgers favourite, Souttar instead had to watch a dismal 90 minutes from the Foxes on Saturday as they lost a relegation six-pointer 1-0 at home to fellow strugglers Bournemouth.
The loss leaves them one from bottom on just 25 points, two points clear of basement club Southampton but two behind 18th-placed Nottingham Forest and Everton, who are 17th. Bournemouth have shot up to 15th on 30 points.
The interim management team reckoned that they had dropped Souttar to the bench for the first time after nine straight starts because of his recent travel schedule, having returned to Australia for the recent internationals against Ecuador where he picked up an ankle injury.
“This was our third game in seven days and I felt the team needed some freshness in certain positions,” said Sadler.
“In Harry’s case, I know he’s had a busy schedule of late. He had the international break a few weeks ago and this would have been his third game in a week, so it was purely about giving some freshness to the team and hoping that would be what we needed to have an impact on the performance.”
Alas, for Leicester, the ‘freshness’ never materialised they could only produce a performance so dismal that they ended up getting jeered off.
England midfielder James Maddison was guilty of presenting the Cherries the only goal of the game, playing a careless blind back pass which was picked off by Philip Billing, who fired home gleefully five minutes before halftime.
Souttar was spared the whistles directed at the team on the pitch near the end, with chants of ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ ringing round the King Power Stadium.
Leicester, now without a win in eight league games, are expected to act soon over appointing a new manager, with widespread reports saying American Jesse Marsch, sacked by Leeds United in February, is in advanced talks about taking the reins.
Asked about this, Sadler said: “I’m not going to speculate on potential new managers.
“As it stands, the job Mike and I have been tasked with is to prepare this team the best we can. Whatever the club decide to do going forward is absolutely their prerogative.”
Sadler, who’s now overseen two defeats since Rodgers was ditched last weekend, felt he couldn’t complain about the fans’ reaction after the defeat.
“At the end of the game they made their feelings known, we have to accept that,” he said.
“We haven’t been able to produce a performance they can be happy with and I think that’s fair comment.”
Leicester have collected just eight points since Christmas, the worst total in the league, and despite Rodgers’ admiration for Souttar, the Scottish-born Australian international hasn’t shored up a defence that’s leaked at least one goal in each of its last 15 matches.