John Stones declared "we are the champions for a reason" after Erling Haaland's fourth Premier League hat-trick of the season gave Manchester City a 3-0 win over Wolves.

City boss Pep Guardiola urged his players to show more desire after a 4-2 victory over Tottenham on Thursday, when they were booed off at half-time having fallen 2-0 down at the Etihad Stadium.

There was no discontent from City fans as they outclassed relegation-threatened Wolves, Haaland opening the scoring late in the first half before adding a second from the penalty spot and completing yet another treble early in the second half.

Haaland already has two more goals than the tally of 23 that earned Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min the golden boot last season and the Norway striker has an astonishing 31 in all competitions in his first City campaign.

City moved two points behind Arsenal ahead of the leaders' clash with Manchester United and defender Stones says they are ready to roll up their sleeves in the battle for the title.

He told Sky Sports: "I think it's just about us, I've said it plenty of times. We can be our own worst enemies at times. We have to be focused. We can see where we are and keep taking it game by game.

"We are the champions for a reason and we want to be champions again, so we have to put ourselves in the best place possible. Keep winning games and getting clean sheets and see where it takes us."

Stones felt City showed a great response to a rallying cry from Guardiola.

He added: "We had to be patient to get that goal today and break them down. I thought we did so well after the other day. Especially in the first half we weren't at it and the manager made that clear.

"We knew we had to hit the ground running and get off to a good start, playing with tempo and that set the game.

"I didn't see the comments from Pep. But I knew what he said to us at half-time and what he wants from us and what he knows we can do and us as players when you are not playing as well as you can and in the second half we came out and showed it and got the win.

"We knew that we had to do that from the off and we did. The patience and desire was there and we were scoring goals and creating chances. Obviously a clean sheet is massive now."

Pep Guardiola highlighted 18-year-old Rico Lewis' introduction as the turning point in Manchester City's 1-0 win at Chelsea on Thursday.

City were poor in the first half and somewhat fortunate to be level at the break, with Carney Chukwuemeka hitting the post for Chelsea.

But teenager Lewis, who had started each of City's two previous Premier League games, was introduced at half-time as Guardiola reverted to a back four.

Lewis slotted in at right-back but once again looked comfortable operating in central midfield areas, as Guardiola likes his full-backs to do, completing all of his 27 passes as City suddenly enjoyed much greater control – he was the only player with more than 16 pass attempts to record 100 per cent accuracy.

Riyad Mahrez scored the winner in the 63rd minute after a wonderful pass from fellow substitute Jack Grealish, but it was Lewis whom Guardiola singled out as being decisive.

"In the last games, Rico has the ability to make his team-mates play better," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"So, there are players who play for themselves really well, but [Lewis] has the ability to make the whole team play better because every movement he does, he knows exactly what he has to do.

"He's playing the level he was playing against Chelsea in the EFL Cup, against Leeds, Liverpool. He changed the game."

For many, though, John Stones was the standout performer.

Not only was he typically assured on the ball – aside from one heavy first touch in the second half that invited pressure from Conor Gallagher – but he was solid defensively as well.

Stones tallied the most touches (102) and successful passes (85) of anyone on the pitch, meanwhile no one bettered his duels success (77.8 per cent – minimum two duels contested) and only Thiago Silva (five) recorded more than his four clearances.

It was not so long ago that Stones' City future was looking uncertain, but Guardiola believes the England international is playing the best football of his time at the club.

"He played extraordinary in the World Cup," Guardiola said. "He can adapt perfectly in the build-up with three [at the back], [playing] wider. He has the calmness, the composure.

"He is playing at the best level, maybe for the first time in seven years since we arrived together.

"When he is stable here [pointing to his head], when his mood is good, he is a fantastic, fantastic player."

Thursday's result reduced the gap to leaders Arsenal to five points, which certainly does not look unassailable for a squad as deep as City's with 21 games left.

Guardiola was keen to give Arsenal their due credit, however, adamant the Gunners have even been impressive in the few games they failed to win.

"Well, it could have been seven points, or 10 or eight, but now the gap is five points," Guardiola said.

"We have to look at ourselves, but I have to admit, the way they are playing, Arsenal deserve to be there.

"It's not just about the points, the way they are playing. Even when they lost against [Manchester] United and drew with Newcastle, the quality and the level they are playing is so good."

John Stones hailed the defensive shift Manchester City put in against Chelsea to secure a valuable 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Riyad Mahrez's goal in the 63rd minute moved Pep Guardiola's side five points behind leaders Arsenal, with City bouncing back after a disappointing 1-1 draw against Everton on New Year's Eve.

While there has been an abundance of praise for City's attacking play this season, and the devastating form of Erling Haaland, it was at the other end where the defending champions had to make their mark.

The display from Stones was an integral part of Thursday's performance as he made a number of crucial interventions, and the England international revealed defence has been an area of focus in recent training sessions.

"It's a big three points for us. After the other day, the overriding feeling from the game was that we'd dropped two points and we should have got more out of the game," Stones told Sky Sports.

"We wanted to put it right today and how we played in the second half especially was brilliant. To come away with three points is just what we needed.

"We rushed a lot of our play in the first half, we had too many crucial passes that got cut out, and we didn't retain the ball as well as we usually do.

"We spoke at half-time, we knew we had to use the ball better and wait for spaces to open. Credit to Chelsea, they played really compact, we couldn't get too many balls through the lines, we had to play wider, and it all came together in the second half.

"There were a few big moments, blocks and defending that we've been working on in training, and it came off today."

Pep Guardiola remains optimistic about Manchester City's performances despite Demarai Gray's stunning equaliser denting the champions' title hopes on New Year's Eve.

Gray picked out the top-right corner with Everton's first shot of the game after 64 minutes at the Etihad Stadium, cancelling out Erling Haaland's opener in a stop-start 1-1 draw.

Having lost to Brentford before the World Cup, City have now failed to win in back-to-back home league games for the first time since May 2021 and remain without a Premier League victory on December 31 (D4 L1).

While City's dropped points handed Arsenal the initiative in an intriguing battle at the top of the table, Guardiola saw no reason to criticise his team's performance.

"Great game. We've played really well in the last three games and it makes me feel optimistic," he told BBC Sport.

"Dropping points at home is always tough, but I'm always trying to make our game good, and we have continued to do it.

"I would say they had eight at the back. In that situation, it's about movement and attacking at the right moment. In general we did it. We didn't allow them transitions. 

"They made a fantastic goal and when that happens you say congratulations, but in general we did really well."

However, defender John Stones was less positive, bemoaning City's failure to find a second goal against a resilient Everton side.

"I don't really know what to say. I feel like we've lost two points," the former Toffees centre-back said. "That's football. 

"We controlled the game for the majority of the time and had a lot of chances, but we couldn't seem to get that goal.

"It's difficult to take after the game. We showed great character to keep fighting and pushing. It was a bit of a scrappy game.

"We conceded two shots all game, but it's overlooked because of that incredible goal. On reflection, we'll be more positive when we look back, I'm sure."

John Stones rates Harry Kane as a striker in the class of Erling Haaland as he backed the England captain to break his Qatar World Cup scoring duck.

England have reached the last-16 stage without needing a goal from their skipper, taking seven points from their group games and scoring nine times in the process, with both totals unsurpassed at this tournament.

For Kane not to have netted any of those goals is a surprise, but he has three assists to his name, more than any other player across the group stage, and is contributing in important ways without putting the ball in the net.

Four years ago in Russia, Kane's six goals made him the Golden Boot winner, and he may yet hit a hot streak of form in the coming fortnight.

Whether he does or not, Stones is in no doubt as to the quality of England's number nine.

Asked whether Kane is a player of the same calibre as Haaland, who is a club-mate of Stones at Manchester City, the England defender suggested they were of comparable quality.

"Definitely yeah, it's difficult to obviously say. Erling's so new to our league and Harry has been playing in it all his life pretty much," Stones said.

"Players like those two, their quality always shines through. Maybe they do say 'does he need a rest or not?', [but] we never think like that.

"I think players that usually are scoring like Harry and want to score, you all saw his assist the other day was incredible, but those sort of players are a massive team player as well.

"The things that don't get spoken about, the positioning, the headers from corners that us as defenders appreciate massively, and what he brings to the team as a leader and as a person, as a presence, can outweigh sometimes what happens or the outcome of things."

That reckoning of Kane's diverse qualities is why England's players are not getting at the captain to find his scoring touch, ahead of Sunday's last-16 tussle with Senegal. All in good time, appears to be the message.

 

Haaland and Kane have both been prolific already in the Premier League this season, netting 18 and 12 goals so far for City and Tottenham respectively to sit first and second in the scoring charts.

While Haaland is missing out on the World Cup action because Norway failed to qualify, Kane has the chance to guide England to glory, a year after they finished runners-up at the European Championship.

Again looking at Haaland and Kane, Stones said: "They are both incredible players and incredible within their own rights as well.

"Harry's always been incredible with me, incredible to play with, and I'm sure he will get on the scoresheet soon."

John Stones says he has never seen a young player as talented as Phil Foden, as Gareth Southgate weighs up whether to stick with the Manchester City man for England's World Cup last-16 clash with Senegal.

Foden was left out of England's line-up for their first two games in Qatar – a 6-2 thrashing of Iran and a goalless draw with the United States – but he got on the scoresheet after starting Tuesday's 3-0 win over Wales. 

He led his team-mates for expected goals (1.04 xG), shots in the Wales area (four) and crosses (five) last time out, and Foden's City colleague expects him to continue impressing.

"I've never seen anyone at that age like Phil, with his ability, his football knowledge, and his freedom in how he plays and how he expresses himself," Stones said on Friday.

"The ability he's got is frightening. I'm a huge fan of Phil, I'm lucky to get to play with him pretty much every day.

"I look forward to seeing what he can do and I love playing with him. I'm extremely lucky, City are extremely lucky, England as well, that we've got somebody like that. 

"I want to help him through whatever it might be, and make sure he gets what he needs on and off the pitch that allows him to go and play as he played the other night."

Foden faces stern competition for a place in England's frontline, with each of Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka having scored in Qatar, and Stones does not envy Southgate's dilemma. 

"It's the hardest part of being a manager, choosing that starting eleven and knowing there's eleven happy players and the rest aren't," Stones added.

"We've got an incredible group here, and the boys who don't make the pitch or come on are very selfless and they put their own feelings aside for the group. 

"That's part of our success. I don't envy managers in general when they've got to make those decisions."

While England's tally of nine goals at this World Cup is the most they have scored in the group stages at a major tournament, back-to-back clean sheets also aided their bid to top Group B.

Stones' central defensive partner Harry Maguire has been heavily criticised after slipping down the pecking order at Manchester United, and the City man believes his response has been exemplary.

"Right from the first game, he's given the best response with what he's been doing. In all three games, he's been terrific," Stones said of Maguire. 

"Knowing what he's been going through and knowing the person he is, it speaks volumes about him to come through that and still believe in himself, like I believed in him and all his team-mates did.

"I think there was a lot of noise from outside which he's not listened to, and he's tried to improve and better himself, and he's come into this tournament and hit the ground running. That's great credit to him."

Pep Guardiola's new contract with Manchester City will see him remain at the Etihad Stadium until 2025, when he will mark nine years at the club.

The Catalan coach has already remained in the Premier League for longer than he has at his previous roles with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, finding a home within English football and establishing a dominant force with his City side.

Throughout his six and a half years in charge so far, Guardiola has been in charge of numerous superstars and club legends, with an all-time squad that would be of envy for any manager in world football.

But how exactly do you break that down into a full XI? Stats Perform has taken on the task and done exactly that.

Ederson

Guardiola made a bold choice upon his arrival in Manchester, swiftly making it clear England international Joe Hart, a two-time Premier League winner, would not fit into his plans moving forward. After a disappointing season with Claudio Bravo, Ederson arrived in 2017 and has been number one ever since.

All of Ederson's 260 appearances across all competitions have come as a starter, higher than any other player under Guardiola, while he sits fifth in the list for total appearances under the Catalan boss.

Kyle Walker

Signed from Tottenham Hotspur in 2017, Kyle Walker has been a mainstay in the City side that has dominated domestic football over the course of the past five years, ranking fifth for the most starts under Guardiola in all competitions (207).

Walker's versatility has been a key benefit for Guardiola and England, with his attacking play also fitting into City's style of play well. Since arriving at City, Walker has contributed 17 assists across all competitions, behind only Joao Cancelo (20) among defenders.

Aymeric Laporte

Among defenders during Guardiola's spell in charge, only John Stones and Walker have started more games than Laporte (155), with both players having joined the club in the seasons before Laporte's arrival from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018.

A total of 163 appearances across all competitions puts him narrowly ahead of Nicolas Otamendi (161) for most games under Guardiola.

John Stones

Snapped up in 2016 as one of Guardiola's first signings, Stones has had to contend with incredible competition for his spot at the heart of the defence, with the likes of Laporte, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake all drafted in.

Despite that, Stones continues to be an important player for City and has made 175 starts under Guardiola and 206 appearances overall, ranking second in both among defenders behind only Walker.

Joao Cancelo

The versatile Portuguese full-back moved to City in 2019 from Juventus and has excelled for City, tallying 149 total appearances and 135 starts in all competitions since joining the club, and provides a huge boost in the attacking third.

A total of 20 assists puts him above any defender during Guardiola's spell in charge, even those who have been at the club far longer.

Kevin de Bruyne

Few players fit the Guardiola philosophy more than De Bruyne, who has hit new heights under the former Barcelona boss to stand among the finest players in world football – with a record in front of goal that many would envy.

De Bruyne has registered 117 assists under Guardiola, way ahead of second-place Raheem Sterling (66), while he has scored 73 goals – only behind Gabriel Jesus, Sterling and Sergio Aguero.

Ilkay Gundogan

With 205 starts under Guardiola, the midfielder has been an integral part of the City side since following the Catalan from Germany to Manchester, ranking only behind Walker, David Silva, Sterling, De Bruyne and Ederson in that regard.

Only six players have scored more goals under Guardiola than Gundogan (51), who ranks ninth for the most assists (33).

Fernandinho

The rock of City's midfield for years, Fernandinho started 200 games under Guardiola and made a total of 244 appearances, the latter seeing him rank behind only Ederson, Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, De Bruyne and Sterling.

A total of 12 goals and 16 assists in those matches represents a decent return for a player renowned more for his defensive strength.

Bernardo Silva

Slotting into the attack ahead of Phil Foden and David Silva, both of whom have a stellar record under Guardiola, Bernardo Silva narrowly gets the nod due to his own impressive numbers in the final third.

Silva has 104 direct goal contributions (50 goals, 54 assists) in 273 appearances, starting in 208 of those matches. Only Sterling and De Bruyne have more assists under Guardiola, while Silva is one of eight players to hit the half-century mark for goals.

Sergio Aguero

In the future, Aguero's spot in the team is likely to be under significant threat from Erling Haaland following his blistering start to life at City, but the Argentine superstar retains the edge for the time being.

Aguero scored 124 goals under Guardiola, more than any other player, with Sterling the only other to have broken the century mark. Those goals came in just 183 appearances with Guardiola in charge, displaying his deadly ability in front of the net.

Raheem Sterling

An unsung hero of the Guardiola era, Sterling played 292 times under the Catalan boss, more than anyone else, while only Aguero scored more goals than Sterling (120).

Sterling also contributed 66 assists under Guardiola, sitting behind only De Bruyne, and is the only player to have scored over 100 goals and added over 50 assists under the Catalan boss.

Manchester City centre-back John Stones believes form and club minutes are irrelevant when it comes to the World Cup, and is backing Manchester United captain Harry Maguire to deliver on the big stage for England.

Stones and Maguire are experienced in leading their country deep into big tournaments, starting alongside each other in both the 2018 World Cup semi-final and the Euro 2020 final.

While Stones, 28, remains in terrific standing back at City, starting almost every game he is healthy for, it has been a different story for 29-year-old Maguire this campaign with United.

After starting the first two games of the Premier League season, a benching followed by a hamstring injury has seen him make only one start since, with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane overtaking the club captain.

Despite Maguire's lack of a perfect preparation, Stones said he knows he can still perform at a high level if that is how manager Gareth Southgate chooses to line up.

"Whatever team or whatever system Gareth decides, if it's me and Harry we will use those bonds again," he said.

"They are too strong to be broken by game time, form, whatever it is. That kind of goes out the window when these moments hit.

"When I look at Harry, I see a partner. Through all our experiences he's had my back and I've had his.

"We've had so many games together, we've made a bond and a partnership together. We know what the other person is going to do and how we work best together. It clicks."

England kick off their campaign on November 21 against Iran, before closing out the group stage with fixtures against the United States and Wales.

Pep Guardiola remains hopeful Kyle Walker will be fit to feature at the World Cup as he offered positive updates on fellow England internationals John Stones and Kalvin Phillips.

Walker has not featured for Manchester City since suffering an abdominal injury in the Premier League champions' 6-3 win over Manchester United earlier this month.

The 32-year-old subsequently underwent surgery, leaving his chances of making the trip to Qatar in the balance and dealing Gareth Southgate another selection headache.

Chelsea right-back Reece James also faces a race against time to make the squad, while Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold has been in poor form this season.

However, Walker offered hope to England supporters last week, telling BBC Radio 5 Live he was "confident" of returning to action before the tournament begins.

Speaking ahead of City's Premier League meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion, Guardiola offered an update on the condition of his England trio, saying: "I haven't spoken to the doctors about Kyle. 

"Hopefully it can happen, if he's selected, that he can go to the World Cup.

"John has trained for the last two days with us, tomorrow, he's on the list. Kalvin is incredible, he's much better as well. They are recovering very well."

City fell to their first defeat of the campaign against Liverpool last Sunday, but are expected to get back on track against a Brighton side yet to taste victory under new boss Roberto De Zerbi (D2 L2).

On Saturday, De Zerbi could become the first Premier League coach to fail to win any of his first five games at the helm since Scott Parker in April 2019, but Guardiola has backed him to have a "massive" impact in the competition.

"I'm really happy he is here, I saw the last two games he had here, and he is already playing the way he wants to play," Guardiola added. "His impact in England will be massive in the future.

"He was counter-cultural in his country. In Italy, they mainly play in an incredible way which gave them a lot of success as a country, but he plays a completely different way to Italy.

"His Sassuolo team was an incredible example that no matter the quality or investment that you have, if you believe in something 100 per cent, the way your team plays, you can do it.

"He's a really good example for every manager. At the start, it doesn't matter about the results, what matters is the way you believe and the way you want to see your team playing football."

City have won their last nine Premier League home games, scoring at least three goals in each. There have only been two longer such runs in English top-flight history, both recorded by Aston Villa (12 in 1897 and 13 in 1930-31).

Pep Guardiola is ignoring Liverpool's below-par start to the Premier League season ahead of Manchester City's trip to Anfield on Sunday, declaring: "Nothing changes what I feel about Liverpool."

City and Liverpool have finished as the Premier League's top two teams in three of the last four seasons, but the Reds trail the champions by 13 points after a poor start to the new campaign.

Liverpool's tally of 10 points is their lowest at this stage of a season since 2012-13 (nine), and Jurgen Klopp's team have already lost as many league games this campaign as they did throughout the entirety of last term (two).

That form represents quite the drop-off for a side who went tantalisingly close to a stunning quadruple in 2021-22, but Guardiola believes City will still face a stern test.

"I had the feeling at Anfield we have played really well [in the past]," Guardiola said on Friday. "It's different circumstances, but you have to behave at a top, top level. 

"In Anfield, winning or losing, we have behaved with an incredible personality. It's a football game, Liverpool is important because of the quality they have.

"Liverpool were going for a prestigious achievement of four titles. For two little details, they didn't achieve what no English team has done.

"I pay zero attention to them being in a good moment or bad moment. They know in the last years, we have fought for most of the competitions and titles, and it's been really close.

"We were a bit better, especially in the Premier League, but nothing changes what I feel about Liverpool."

Pushed on whether Liverpool remain title contenders, Guardiola said: "Liverpool have always been our biggest challengers, and they will be now. Being in the position that we are, with the World Cup, anything can happen."

City have picked up four points from their last two league trips to Anfield, just one fewer than they earned in their previous 17 visits to Liverpool (D5 L12).

Should Guardiola's men avoid defeat on Sunday, it will represent the first time they have done so in three consecutive away league games against Liverpool since December 1992.

City's efforts could be hampered by the absences of England trio Kalvin Phillips, John Stones and Kyle Walker, but Guardiola says Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva are raring to go after being rested at Copenhagen on Tuesday.

"John Stones will be back in, I don't know, maybe one week or 10 days. Kalvin is doing really well, but Kyle is out," Guardiola said.

"We have a lot of games, like all the teams. Players are recovering better. Erling could not play all the games last season. Bernardo was tired, but they feel good and are ready for Sunday."

Haaland has only played nine Premier League games for City, but he has already broken the records for most goals (15) and goal involvements (18) in a player's first 10 outings in the competition.

The Norwegian is just one goal away from matching the record for most goals scored by a player across any 10-game stint in Premier League history, set by former Liverpool attacker Luis Suarez – who from October to December 2013 scored 16 goals for the Reds.

Manchester City will be without John Stones for Sunday's derby against Manchester United, Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

The centre-back was taken off during England's 3-3 draw with Germany on Monday with a hamstring issue.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Guardiola said Stones will likely be out for up to two weeks, meaning he will miss the clash with United as well as potentially another three games.

"He will be back when he will be ready," he said, later clarifying: "I think it will not be four, five, six weeks, it will be less. I don't know when he will come back but I think maybe 10 days, two weeks."

There was better news for another City defender though, with Aymeric Laporte back in training.

"Training really well," his manager said. "Training alone because everyone was with national teams, but yesterday and today he feels good."

City welcome an in-form United to the Etihad Stadium, with Erik ten Hag's men winning their last four Premier League games, leading to the Dutchman securing September's manager of the month award.

"I always expect the best," Guardiola said. "They come with good results against tough sides, with Southampton it's not easy but especially Liverpool and Arsenal at home, and yeah, good momentum for them."

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss also compared the Manchester derby to El Clasico and Der Klassiker, suggesting it has been easier to manage derbies in Germany and England since his time in LaLiga.

"In Spain, Barcelona and [Real] Madrid is more noisy the days before, more media, everything. The rest, in Germany, here, perfect. You can work, people expecting, enjoy to watch the derby, that's all.

"It's important, big rival in the city. We will try to figure out what we're going to do and what we can do to beat them. No more than that.

"In these kind of games you don't have to make extra emotion, everyone knows it. The stadium will be full... I'm looking forward to it."

Erling Haaland always expected a tough game against former employers Borussia Dortmund but said "they didn't stop me" after scoring a superb winner in Manchester City's 2-1 comeback triumph.

City were up against it in Wednesday's Champions League encounter when Jude Bellingham nodded the visitors ahead after the break.

But John Stones rifled in a long-range equaliser, which proved the precursor to a moment of genius from Haaland, who produced a stunning acrobatic volley to break the hearts of his former club.

Haaland's stunning intervention came just a day after Dortmund defender Nico Schlotterbeck declared he was well-equipped to stop the Norwegian, shattering a resolute defensive display from BVB.

City's goals – scored in the 80th and 84th minutes – came from their first two shots on target in the match, and Haaland acknowledged how tough it had been for him to make his mark. 

"They didn't stop me. I scored. They played well, they were good," Haaland, who at the age of 22 years and 55 days old is now the youngest player in Champions League history to score both for and against a single club, told BT Sport.

"They were good. I was quite sure I was going to be followed the whole game because Edin [Terzic] knows me very well. Dortmund were really good today. In the end, the three points is what matters.

"This is what we are, and this is why we have to play. In the end, I'm proud of the last 20, 25 minutes. 

"Two wonderful goals today, mine was a bit better, honestly! In the end, a really important win."

City have now gone unbeaten through their last 21 home Champions League games (W19 D2), the longest such sequence by an English club since Chelsea also went 21 without defeat between September 2006 and December 2009.

Just as belief was drifting away from the Etihad Stadium, Stones' 20-yard strike whistled past Alexander Meyer to get the hosts back on terms – the England defender's first goal from outside the penalty area for club or country.

Stones explained he had taken up his advanced position for defensive reasons as he acknowledged City did not meet their usual standards for long periods.

"The manager wants us in those sorts of areas for things like that, and to control the counter-attack as well, we're in good positions for balls that come outside the box," Stones said.

"It was one of those things, I was getting a few shouts and just decided to pull the trigger.

"It was difficult, we were definitely not at our best. In the first half we made it difficult, we didn't play at the tempo we should have, we didn’t use the ball well, we had a lot of sloppy passes.

"So at half-time we had some stern words between each other and tried to change that for the second half, and I think we did."

Dortmund goalscorer Bellingham, meanwhile, acknowledged the quality of Haaland's finish in his own post-match interview, saying: "That shows his quality, you know? 

"He's not always in the game, but you know if you give him half a sniff, he can make a goal. That's what he did tonight."

City's win moved them three points clear of Dortmund at the top of Group G ahead of back-to-back meetings with Copenhagen in early October.

Erling Haaland came back to haunt his former club with a stunning acrobatic winner as Manchester City came from behind to earn a hard-fought 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium.

Haaland, who averaged over a goal per game in the Champions League during a two-year spell at Dortmund, met Joao Cancelo's fine cross with a sensational backheeled volley to seal the hosts' victory in the 84th minute.

City had appeared set for a surprise defeat when Jude Bellingham nodded Dortmund ahead after the break, only for John Stones' long-range effort to beat Alexander Meyer for the leveller.

Having been kept quiet by Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule for the majority of the contest, the indomitable Haaland came good in sensational style late on to ensure City preserved their perfect start to their Champions League campaign.

Erling Haaland's scored a hat-trick as Manchester City once again fought back from two down, beating Crystal Palace 4-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's men found themselves trailing by two goals for the fourth time in six Premier League matches, but they stormed back to defeat Palace.

Eberechi Eze had a role in both goals as Palace raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to John Stones' own goal and Joachim Andersen's bullet header, leaving a blunt City side stunned at the interval.

But the excellent Bernardo Silva began the comeback by halving the deficit just after half-time before Haaland took over, completing the turnaround with a pair of poacher's finishes and a third clinical strike for the champions.

City had an uphill task early on, as Eze's free-kick delivery deflected off Kyle Walker and found its way in off Stones.

The hosts' response was hardly emphatic, and they found themselves two down by the 21st minute for the first time in the league since December 2010.

Another Eze set-piece – this time a corner – teed up a powerful header into the bottom-left corner from Andersen, who easily evaded Walker.

Silva looked City's biggest threat and was unsurprisingly the one to pull a goal back in the 53rd minute, cutting in from the right and seeing a low strike flicked past Guaita by Jeffrey Schlupp.

City levelled just past the hour as Haaland beat his marker to head Phil Foden's cross in from close range, before then putting them in front with a tap-in 20 minutes from time.

He slotted past Guaita to complete his hat-trick and cap a fine second-half City display after brilliantly holding off his marker.

John Stones is confident Manchester City will continue to perform at an elite level following a period of change, with the Premier League champions recruiting the likes of Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips amid the departures of several big names.

Meanwhile, Stones' City and England team-mate Phil Foden has hailed Pep Guardiola's style of management as the biggest factor in creating a harmonious atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium.

Having clinched a second consecutive Premier League title – their fourth in six seasons under Guardiola – with an exhilarating comeback victory over Aston Villa in May, City have used the transfer market to kick-start an evolution of their squad.

Haaland and Phillips represent City's two marquee signings during the off-season, while the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fernandinho have all sought pastures new.

While Stones told the club's website he was sorry to see some of their most storied players depart, he is confident City's new arrivals will keep Guardiola's team competitive. 

"I'm always confident we can be successful," Stones said. "Whoever has come in, they have always been great from the start.

"We obviously spend that much time together and get to know people on a personal level first and then we go out on the training pitch and see what they can bring and the quality they have.

"Whoever has come in has stepped up. It's sad to see people go, whether it is retirement or wanting a new challenge and that's hard because we have so many good friends and good memories on the pitch, but we won’t forget those.

"But that’s football, there is always new people coming in and it is credit to the backroom staff and people involved in recruiting that the character fit of players that have come in do so well in the team."

Haaland's arrival should provide City with the focal point they missed at times last term – Kevin De Bruyne top-scored with 15 league goals for a side that shared the attacking burden during 2021-22.

Meanwhile, Phillips appears the ideal Fernandinho replacement in midfield after making more recoveries per 90 minutes (10.16) than any other outfield player to make a minimum of 15 Premier League appearances last season.

The intense competition for places at the Etihad was suggested as the reason for both Jesus and Sterling departing for domestic rivals in Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.

But Guardiola handed at least 900 minutes of Premier League football to 18 different players last campaign, a tally only bettered by four clubs, and Foden has hailed the tactician for his approach to squad management.

"He's really good at it, bringing everyone together," the creative midfielder said. "We have a big squad and everyone has to be ready to play.

"You see that all year round, everyone has to be ready to step up. Everyone sticking together in moments like those is so important and that's why we win a lot of trophies."

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