Kevin De Bruyne scored four goals as City beat Wolves 5-1 at Molineux to move three points clear at the top of the Premier League table and just four points clear of the title.
The Belgian completed his hat-trick in just 24 minutes, making Leander Dendoncker’s early equaliser irrelevant before scoring a fourth goal in the second half.
Raheem Sterling scored five but the night belonged to one man. It was a masterclass for the midfielder – whose first-half threes were all made with his left foot – and the win restored City’s three-point advantage over Liverpool at the end of two games.
Wolf: Sa (5), Jonny (6), Cody (5), Boley (5), Chiquinho (7), Neves (6), Moutinho (5), Dendon Kerr ( 6), Neto (6), Jimenez (6).
submarine: Hwang (5), Trincao (6), Cundle (n/a).
Manchester City: Ederson (6), Cancelo (7), Fernandinho (6), Laporte (7), Zinchenko (6), Rodri (7), De Bruyne ( 10), Gundogan (7), Sterling (6), Bernardo (8), Foden (8).
submarine: Ake (6), Mahrez (6), Grealish (n/a).
Competition male: Kevin De Bruyne.
Guardiola will not be happy to see Aymeric Laporte leave with an injury, adding to his side’s personnel problems at the back. However, they need four points from the remaining games to retain the top spot, a big step towards the defending champions.
Wolves made a change to a side that drew with Chelsea, with injured Roman Seth giving way to Portuguese winger Chiquinho in his first Premier League start.
Manchester City made three changes to the side that beat Newcastle, with Ruben Dias, Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus making way for Fernandinho, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva .
It didn’t take long for City to stress their advantage. Bernardo Silva slid the ball into the back line and De Bruyne into the far corner of the goal. If there was a surprise, it was that Wolves managed to find their own quick reflexes.
Raul Jimenez countered quickly, sending Pedro Neto down the left, and the young striker passed the ball to the rushing Dendonk, who was on the left of the goalkeeper. A side low shot beat Ederson. Molineux broke out and – briefly – there was hope for the home side.
De Bruyne quickly put a stop to that. It was his clever strike against Sterling that created chaos in the Wolves defence, with the Belgian quickly grabbing the loose ball and his deflected shot finding the top of Josesa’s net.
By then City were purring and the third goal was the group’s choice – again his left foot, this time an absolute rocket, which went into the net when he cut from the right . The stadium was in shock and everyone knew they were witnessing greatness.
What followed was tepid, and even with City in control, Wolves continued to attack, leaving gaps in the back and causing problems through the charged Chiquinho. In his first start for the club, he almost won a penalty when Alexander Zinchenko rushed in.
Sterling netted the ball early in the second half but was ruled offside, while Wolves pushed on at the other end to find space on the flanks. No one else on the pitch seems capable of making one look easy. Enter De Bruyne again.
A late arrival in the box caught City’s counter-attack and this time he did hit the ball with his right foot, again calmly beating Sa for a jubilant away run. Scored four goals in a game.
Sterling still had time to add five from close range to seal the rout, while De Bruyne hit the post with his own five. By then, Wolves’ spirit was broken. Be blown away by one of the most outrageous solo performances of the season.
Player of the game: Kevin De Bruyne
This is the Kevin De Bruyne show. The expected goal total for City’s seven shots at Molineux in the first half was just 0.52 – in other words, attempts in these positions usually result in a goal every other game. De Bruyne scored a three-pointer in 24 minutes.
The first is measured in the corner, the second is his expected credit after some ingenuity that created the chance in the first place. The third showed the power of his boots, the ball flashing into the net, causing the crowd to gasp.
Three different goals, but all with what he called his weaker left foot. He added a fourth with his right hand. No one should be too surprised. De Bruyne continues to provide.In a special city team, soon to be supported by Erling Haaland, he is this special player.
Manchester City’s Statistical Victory
- Manchester City became the first team in English top flight history to win five consecutive league games by at least three goals.
- Manchester City have won 45 points in the Premier League this season – only three clubs have scored more on the road in a single season: Arsenal in 2001-02 (47), Chelsea in 2004-05 (48) and Manchester City themselves in 2001-02. 2017-18 (50).
- Kevin De Bruyne’s hat-trick after 24 minutes was the third in Premier League history, behind Sadio Mane (16) against Aston Villa in May 2015 and 2001 Dwight Yorke (22) against Arsenal in February.
Wolves will return to Molineux on Sunday when they host Norwich, who have been relegated. They have finished their season and they will face Liverpool at Anfield.
Manchester City travel to West Ham on the same day, with a chance to tighten their grip on the champions ahead of their final day of fixtures with Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium.