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 could still have 18 more matches to play if it goes all the way in the FA Cup and Champions League. Fifty goals looks 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, meanwhile, is on one of those end-of-season winning runs that has become its trademark. Make that eight straight victories in all competitions — the team’s best streak of the season — to really put the pressure on Arsenal, which takes a five-point lead into its match at Liverpool on Sunday.
Grealish and Julian Alvarez scored City’s other goals on the south coast.
“I would like to be in the position Arsenal are in,” Guardiola said. “I would love that.”
The race for third and fourth place behind Arsenal and City 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, which beat Brighton 2-1 courtesy of Harry Kane’s winner. It was 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 ran onto a cutback from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and scored with a fierce drive in the 79th.
Tottenham has played one one more game than Newcastle and Man United.
It wasn’t the return to Chelsea that Frank Lampard would have hoped.
His second spell as the team’s manager started with a 1-0 loss at Wolverhampton in a match that probably meant more to the host, which is among the many clubs involved in a scrap to avoid relegation. Matheus Nunes scored with a rasping, first-time strike into the far corner.
While the win pushed Wolves four points clear of the bottom three, Chelsea moves on to a competition that will define the end to its season — the Champions League.
Chelsea visits Real Madrid in the first leg of the quarterfinals on Wednesday, with Lampard giving N’Golo Kante the weekend off to ensure he is fit after a long injury.
Lampard, a former Chelsea player and manager, has been appointed interim coach until the end of the season after the firing of Graham Potter and is still learning about his expensively assembled team that is languishing in 11th place.
“There has been a lot of change and that’s not an excuse but things need to improve,” Lampard said, “and I think that performance summed it up.”
Prince William — who is known to be 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 and is on course for its highest finish since 2010, when it ended the season in that position.
Ollie Watkins continued his hot streak with a stoppage-time goal to seal victory and take him to nine in his last 11 games. Villa has won six of its last seven matches.
Leicester might not be too good to go down, after all.
Without a manager after firing Brendan Rodgers last weekend, Leicester looks increasingly without hope of staying up after getting beaten by lowly Bournemouth 1-0 for a seventh loss in its last eight league games.
Leicester stayed in next-to-last place, two points from safety with eight games remaining.
England midfielder James Maddison, one of Leicester’s many established internationals, was to blame for the only goal after playing a blind backpass that was pounced on by Philip Billing. He slotted home in the 40th.
Leicester was joined in the relegation zone by Forest, which is tied for point with fourth-to-last Everton.
Bournemouth moved three points clear of the bottom three as did West Ham, which won 1-0 at Fulham thanks to Harrison Reed’s own goal.