Belgium international, Kevin De Bruyne’s hat-trick in just 17 first-half minutes at Wolves on Wednesday night has easily become one of the outstanding individual performances of the 2021-2022 English Premier League season.
The team’s talismanic figure, who netted four goals in all at the Molineu last night, also led the Citizens to score five goals for second successive league games and bringing them within touching distance of their fourth EPL title in five seasons.
The flood of goals began at the 7th minute, when De Bruyne cut through the Wolves defence as he was allowed to exchange passes with Bernardo Silva, who threaded the ball. De Bruyne ran onto it and angled a low shot across Goalkeeper Jose Sa.
However, Wolves equalized on the counter on 11 minutes as Raoul Jimenez picked out Pedro Neto, who had far too much space down the left. He was allowed to run and run before eventually cutting the ball back for Leander Dendoncker to side-foot past Ederson.
Sixteen minutes on, Wolves failed to track De Bruyne once again as he was found by Oleksandr Zinchenko, who lifted the ball through to Raheem Sterling. He was beaten to it by Sa but it broke to De Bruyne, whose shot ricocheted off the goalkeeper and flew high into the net.
He then superbly claimed his hat-trick by the 24th minute as he collected Sterling’s lay-off from a throw-in and ran in from the right, holding off challenges.
Wolves, who almost looked scared of him, retreated and De Bruyne struck a powerful left-foot shot around Sa.
His fourth came on the hour mark as he pushed the ball out to where Phil Foden, on the right, tried to find Sterling. Rayan Ait-Nouri intervened but could only direct the ball to De Bruyne, who slammed it into the net.
It was turning into a rout but Foden hit the post, with only Sa to beat, Sterling failed to fully connect with Foden’s cross when he had a tap-in and more chances were spurned.
Finally Sterling got his goal six minutes from time as he forced home a deflected cross from Joao Cancelo, before he also miscued when through on goal and De Bruyne hit the post.
“One of the best I have ever had,” City’s Manager Pep Guardiola said of the Belgian international.
“He was unstoppable, brilliant, awesome, outstanding, perfect,” Guardiola hailed the player.
Having imperiously restored their three-point lead over Liverpool and, crucially, further enhanced their goal difference With two games to go, City’s goal advantage is now up to seven and they have scored 22 times in their past five league games, becoming the first team in the English top flight to win five consecutive matches by a margin of at least three goals.
If they avoid defeat at West Ham United on Sunday, a day after Liverpool play the FA Cup final against Chelsea, they will have one hand firmly on the Premier League trophy ahead of a final-day fixture against Aston Villa.
Editing by Tony Okerafor