Kevin de Bruyne’s stunning four-goal haul helped Manchester City thump Wolves and restored their three-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Pep Guardiola’s side now need only four points from their final two fixtures to ensure they will finish above Liverpool and win their fourth title in five seasons.
De Bruyne has played a central role in all of those previous triumphs but this was an individual display that must rank among the finest of his stellar collection in a City shirt.
The Belgian started the move that led to his side’s opener, and finished it too, running on to Bernardo Silva’s pass to slot home.
Wolves did not take long to respond, with a rapid counter-attack ending when Pedro Neto found Leander Dendoncker in space on the edge of the box to fire past Ederson.
This was De Bruyne’s stage, however, and he quickly put his side back in front. Again, he played a part in the build-up too, and was in the right place to smash in the rebound after Jose Sa beat Raheem Sterling to his pass.
His third goal – again with his so-called weaker left foot – was the pick of the bunch, and saw him drive towards the edge of the area and curl into the bottom corner.
De Bruyne hat-trick was his first for City and at 24 minutes was the third-quickest in Premier League history.
He celebrated in style by copying the meditation celebration of his soon-to-be team-mate Erling Haaland, who City reached an agreement to sign this week, but he was not finished yet.
City came out for the second half looking for more goals to improve their goal difference, which was already three better than Liverpool’s before kick-off.
Raheem Sterling thought he had extended their lead when he ran clear and beat Sa but an offside flag cut short his celebrations.
It was left to De Bruyne to make it 4-1, typically making no mistake when a Phil Foden cross was deflected into his path and finding the bottom corner with his first right-footed effort of the night.
More chances followed, with Foden hitting the post and Sterling missing an easy chance but eventually someone else did get in on the act, with Sterling tapping into an empty net after Sa denied Joao Cancelo.
This was still the De Bruyne show, however. City are not over the line yet, and their next test is an awkward trip to West Ham on Sunday, but on this evidence they will take some stopping.
More to follow.
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Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The misser will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Rating range key = Give it up = Sheer Perfection
- 1Malheiro de Sa
- 19Castro Otto
- 20Tomas Oliveira
- 28Joao MoutinhoSubstituted forcundledid 85′minutes
- 3Ait Nouri
- 7netoSubstituted forMachado Trincaodid 72′minutes
- 9JimenezSubstituted forHwang Hee-Chandid 72′minutes
- 11Machado Trincao
- 17Fabio Silva
- 26Hwang Hee-Chan
- 25FernandinhoSubstituted forMahrezdid 77′minutes
- 14The doorSubstituted forAkedid 61′minutes
- 17De BruyneBooked at 78mins
- 47FodenSubstituted forGrealishdid 81′minutes
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 9Gabriel Jesus
- 56Egan Riley
Match ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1, Manchester City 5.
Second Half-ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1, Manchester City 5.
Attempt missed. João Cancelo (Manchester City) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jack Grealish.
Attempt missed. Hwang Hee-Chan (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ruben Neves.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) hits the left post with a left footed shot from the center of the box. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez.
Foul by Jack Grealish (Manchester City).
Chiquinho (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jack Grealish (Manchester City).
José Sá (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the center of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a through ball.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Luke Cundle replaces João Moutinho.
Goal! Wolverhampton Wanderers 1, Manchester City 5. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from very close range to the center of the goal.
Attempt blocked. João Cancelo (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Grealish with a through ball.
Substitution, Manchester City. Jack Grealish replaces Phil Foden.
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Chiquinho (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad crowd.
Foul by Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City).
Rayan Aït-Nouri (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Manchester City. Riyad Mahrez replaces Fernandinho.
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