You wait 28 years for a hat-trick in the Manchester Derby and then two come along at once.
The first Manchester Derby of the 2022-23 season was a tale of two teams. One was a machine capable of defeating a club from any era before it, while the other was a team living on the past with a group of supporters who overhype a few wins.
It isn’t all their fault, however. The media fuels the fires of Manchester United’s expectations only for fans to walk out of matches early and bemoan the poor status of the club following a loss.
Manchester City’s 6-3 mauling of Manchester United looks slightly better on paper thanks to two late Anthony Martial goals for the Red Devils. However, the derby was effectively finished after the opening 45 minutes, with City up 4-0 thanks to two goals apiece from Phil Foden and Erling Haaland. Antony pulled a goal back for United, but Foden and Haaland killed off the hopes of a comeback by sealing their hat-tricks in the second period.
Foden and Haaland entered rarefied air on Sunday against Manchester United. Only once before had a player scored a hat-trick in the Manchester Derby during the Premier League era. Foden and Haaland became the second (Haaland) and third (Foden) players to achieve the feat.
A history of legendary players
Remarkably, only three players in the derby’s history have scored Premier League hat-tricks. The derby has seen some of the greatest players to play in the Premier League era. Yet, just three have tallied a trio of goals in one Premier League match.
Wayne Rooney, Serio Aguero, Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Edin Dzeko, and a host of other legendary players have pulled on the blue shirt of City or the red jersey of United. Yet, none of those players was able to score a league hat-trick of goals.
The fiery atmosphere of the derby is likely one reason fans haven’t been treated to more hat-tricks over the years. There was also a time that Man City weren’t in the Premier League, and derbies between the rivals were few and far between. The derby has only reached its current levels thanks to the rise of Manchester City over the last decade-plus.
The teams played the first Manchester Derby of the Premier League era on 6 December 1992 at Old Trafford as United won 2-1. The return leg in March ended 1-1 with Man United winning the title.
Who are the Manchester Derby’s hat-trick heroes?
The first hat-trick between the clubs during the Premier League era was scored not too long after their first-ever meeting in the newly formed English top flight. On 10 November 1994, Manchester United romped to a 5-0 home win against the Cityzens. Russian forward Andrei Kanchelskis stole the show with a hat-trick of goals for the Red Devils.
Just five years earlier, Manchester City thrashed the Red Devils 5-1 at Maine Road. Sir Alex Ferguson later went on record, saying it was the “most embarrassing defeat” of his time at Manchester United. Kanchelskis’ hat-trick in 1994 put the bragging rights for the city firmly in the hands of the Red Devils.
Coincidentally, Kanchelskis would later rock up at Maine Road for 11 matches in all competitions in 2001. He scored more goals in the November Manchester Derby (three) than he did during his short spell at Man City.
Fast forward nearly 28 years later for the second hat-trick in a Premier League Manchester Derby. Of course, the second hat-trick and third were scored by Haaland and Foden in October 2022. The unreal performance of the two young stars typified City’s win, playing Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United off the park from minute No. 1.
Balon d’Or winner 2022-23
While Foden has been electric for City this season, Haaland’s start to the Premier League is like no other player’s beginning to an English top-flight season. The old cliche is that it takes a season to bed into the league.
Haaland took five minutes, if that, to become acquainted with the English top flight. The Norwegian scored his 12th, 13th, and 14th goals of the 2022-23 Premier League season against Man United.
The joke going into the game was about how Harry Maguire would prevent Haaland from scoring. There was hope Lisandro Martinez and Rafael Varane would combine to stop the Norwegian cyborg. Neither could stop him, and Varane was replaced in the first half by Victor Lindelof.
Haaland has three hat-tricks in just eight Premier League appearances this season. He is making a mockery of league goalscoring records. It is unbelievable he joined Borussia Dortmund for just €20 million in January 2020 from Red Bull Salzburg.
The likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal all had the chance to sign him. They didn’t due to Haaland being young, raw, and playing in a second-tier league with Salzburg. His performances at Dortmund seemed to come with a caveat, with no team outside of Man City showing that much interest in him.
Shattering Premier League records
Scoring one goal in a Premier League match is difficult enough. Yet, scoring three times in a single game is rare. Just over 200 players have scored a Premier League hat-trick since the league replaced the old First Division in 1992.
Coincidentally, the first hat-trick was scored by Manchester United legend Eric Catona, albeit while he played at Leeds United. Cantona scored three times in a 5-0 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur on 25 August 1992.
Former Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero holds the record for the most Premier League hat-tricks with 12. It took Aguero 10 seasons to rack up a dozen league hat-tricks. Haaland has scored a quarter of Aguero’s hat-tricks in just eight league matches for Manchester City. Haaland could shatter Aguero’s record in his first season at Man City.
Wayne Rooney leads the Manchester Derby in all-time scoring with 11 career goals. Haaland should break Rooney’s record. It is highly unlikely Haaland will score three goals in each of the next three games against Manchester United, but he is on pace to do the deed in just four derby matches.
Kanchelskis scored the first Manchester Derby hat-trick in 1994. It took nearly three decades for the second hat-trick to be scored in the derby. Hat-tricks in the derby are like Manchester buses. You wait 28 years for a hat trick to come along, then two come at once.