In the opening week of EPL action, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling treated us to a wondrous hattrick performance in the Citizens’ 5-0 romp at West Ham. Sterling is an outstanding goal scorer and all-around player, really coming into his own over the prior two seasons in which he tallied 35 goals and 21 assists for the team that captured the league crown both times. As such, his three-goal effort in London was hardly a big shocker.
In Week 2, however, the league’s hattrick hero came as much more of a surprise. Teemu Pukki was dazzling for the Canaries last season in the Championship, scoring 29 goals plus 10 assists in 43 games. But the Championship is not the Premier League (unless you’re facing Newcastle perhaps). And amazingly, Pukki never scored a hattrick in any of those games! Six times he notched a brace in 2018-19, but he couldn’t get up to three scores once. (He did score a hattrick each in 2017-18 in 2016-17 for Brondby IF against FC Nordskjaelland in Denmark Superligaen competition, and another in 2010-11 for HJK Helsinki against Turun Palloseura in Finland Veikkausliiga action.)
Simply put, Pukki has barely played at what would be called an elite level, and has not performed in stand-out fashion in an upper tier league prior to this season. He scored 8 goals with 3 assists in 37 Bundlesliga games with FC Schalke from 2011-12 through 2013-14, and failed to get on the score sheet in a single La Liga appearance with Sevilla in 2008-09. Of course, that was when he was a younger man. Now at 29, the Finnish sniper is trying to prove that it’s never too late for a journeyman to turn into a Premier League star.
This season did not start well for Norwich or Pukki, as a trip to Anfield in the opener had the Canaries down 4-0 to Liverpool after only 42 minutes. The visitors enjoyed a bit of a second half turnaround, however, as Pukki scored on a well-taken finish into the side netting against Adrian while the Reds failed to extend their victory beyond 4-1. Naturally, that gave the Canaries some hope as they went home to Carrow Road for Week 2 welcoming a Newcastle United side which had lost in Week 1 at St. James’ Park against Arsenal, 1-0.
Watch the highlights of Norwich City’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle:
Norwich most definitely started on the front foot before the roused home fans. In the 5th minute, Pukki made a deft pass from the touch line right of the goal to Todd Cantwell in front, but his strike partner could not beat Martin Dubravka. At 8’, Pukki had a golden opportunity around the penalty spot, but he struck wide. At 25’, Pukki made a shot on target from the left side, but it traveled harmlessly straight at the Magpies’ keeper.
Newcastle’s Joelinton headed wide of the Norwich net at 27’, and after that it was almost all Norwich. At 32’, Pukki opened the scoring with a wonder goal to put the Canaries up 1-0. A Newcastle defender headed a looping half-clearance out toward the edge of the box, and Pukki tore into a full volley with a vicious right-footed lash to the left side of the goal. Dubravka got a hand to it, but a strong enough parry to fend off Pukki’s searing effort was simply too much to ask for.
At 63’, Cantwell dribbled through the heart of the Newcastle defense, then laid it off for Pukki, who slotted home from almost the exact same place he scored his first goal, and to the same side of Dubravka, only this time through traffic with a low, hard right-footed shot that bounced once before piercing the net.
At 75’, with Newcastle desperate to get back into the game, Cantwell and Pukki found themselves two-on-one against poor defender Emil Krafth. As a weaving Pukki took the ball from Cantwell, the hattrick came via a simple left foot finish to the right side of the goal as Dubravka extended a leg in vain.
Jonjo Shelvey earned a consolation goal for the visitors in the final minute of added time, but the day was all about Norwich, and furthermore all about Teemu Pukki who made fantasy managers who had him in their team absolutely ecstatic:
Official FPL: 17 points (3 goals, 3 bonus points)
Fantrax: 41 points (3 goals, 6 shots on target, 1 tackle won, 1 corner forced)
Right now Pukki is looking like a one-man team, having scored all four of Norwich City’s goals. Pukki has taken 10 of the team’s 27 shots, and is responsible for seven of the Canaries’ 13 shots on target.
At the time of Pukki’s hattrick, he had been selected by 6.7% of Official FPL managers. How high will that mark get by the start of Week 3 facing Chelsea?
[Note: Statistics used in this article came via the official Premier League website and www.transfermarkt.com .]
Did you have Teemu Pukki in your fantasy team? If not, are you adding him now? Let us know how you rate his breakout performance in the comments below!