ERLING HAALAND will have his work cut out if he wants to be the main man at Manchester City.
Ever since he set foot in the door at the Etihad back in August 2015, Kevin De Bruyne has been the heartbeat of this brilliant team.Wolves midfielder Leander Dendoncker equalised against the Citizens shortly after[/caption]
And as if to show his new £51.4million team-mate who is the boss at his new home, the Belgian struck FOUR times here.
His haul included a thrilling 17 minute hat-trick and some finishes the Borussia Dortmund strike sensation would have been proud of.
And it helped Pep Guardiola’s men take another huge step towards a fourth Prem title in the last five years.
Just four points now from their last two matches and there will be nothing Liverpool can do to stop them.
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Three might even be enough – as they again extended their goal difference advantage over Jurgen Klopp’s men to seven.
All the talk among the travelling City fans in recent days has been about Haaland, 21, who will join them in July.
But here was a reminder of some of the special talents they already have here – and none more special than De Bruyne.
If there were any nerves after the Reds victory last night, the Belgian soon dispelled them in a breath-taking opening 24 minutes.De Bruyne restored City’s lead in the 11th minute after pouncing on a loose ball[/caption] De Bruyne sealed his hat-trick in the 26th minute after lashing home a strike from outside the box[/caption]
The first came when Jose Sa did not get enough distance on his clearance and Oleksandr Zinchenko won the header for City.
De Bruyne swapped passes with Bernardo Silva before bursting clear and stroking the ball home emphatically.
Just seven minutes in and what a start for the leaders.
Yet just as they did at Chelsea on Saturday, Wolves mounted something of a fightback.
Raul Jiminez found space and sent Pedro Neto away down the left.
He took his time and picked out Leander Dendoncker who thumped a low shot past Ederson.
That wasn’t in the script. It was easy to forget Wolves came into the game still with an outside chance of a place in the Europa Conference League.
Yet the visitors had a much bigger prize in mind and restored their lead on 17 minutes.
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Zinchenko was again involved as he launched a ball forward which De Bruyne turned into the path of Raheem Sterling.
The England ace could not get there ahead of Jose Sa but the ball bounced kindly into the path De Bruyne.
His shot clipped the heels of the Wolves keeper before flying into the roof of the net.
And midway through the first half the Belgian incredibly had a hat-trick.
Sterling looked like he was fouled as he went to collect a throw in but De Bruyne didn’t wait around for the whistle.
He weaved his way in from the right before launching a fierce low shot from the edge of the box that fizzed past Sa.
It was the former Chelsea man’s first hat-trick since 2011 – when he was still playing in his homeland.
And what a time to score it.English winger Raheem Sterling sealed the victory for the visitors late on[/caption]
He scored more in those electric 17 minutes than Liverpool’s Mo Salah has managed in his last 14 games.
It meant City had banged in 20 goals in just four and a quarter Prem matches – almost as if the current squad are trying to tell Pep they are getting on just fine without Haaland.
Despite their poor recent form and the fact their manager Bruno Lage was still absent due to Covid, Wolves did not lie down.
Chiquinho went down under a challenge in the box from Zinchenko but replays showed the Ukrainian just got something on the ball.
City were in command though and almost added to their lead as Sterling broke clear and score – only for his celebrations to be cut short by the linesman’s flag.
Guardiola had a major scare soon afterwards as Jiminez rolled into the standing leg of Laporte.
The Spanish international needed lengthy treatment and City can ill afford to lose another centre back.
Ruben Dias and John Stones are already ruled out for the season along with Kyle Walker who has played there in the past.
Nathan Ake was only fit for the bench as he nurses an ankle problem – so City already had veteran midfielder Fernandinho filling in there.
Laporte was able to continue gingerly and he made another perfectly timed tackle to deny Jiminez in the box.
Yet he made it clear he could not carry on – meaning Ake had to get off the treatment table to come on.
You might say City are limping towards the finish line with their current injury problems – but far from it.
By the time Ake was on, City – and KDB – had got their fourth.
Inevitably the £54m ace was involved in the build up, setting Foden away down he left and he tried to pick out Sterling.
It didn’t quite make it but there was you-know-who to sweep home the loose ball.
Fernandinho – who turned 37 last week – chased back to tackle Neto and got something on the ball – despite Wolves cries for a penalty.A City fan threw a blue flare onto the pitch after De Bruyne grabbed his hat-trick[/caption] Pep Guardiola’s side have moved back to three points above Liverpool at the top of the table[/caption]
At the other end, De Bruyne, obviously, slipped in Foden whose shot beat Sa but came out off the inside of the post.
And Sterling somehow failed to turn in a cross from Foden – getting his effort all wrong and colliding with the post.
He did get his goal in the closing stages as he tapped in at the back post after good work by sub Jack Grealish and Joao Cancelo.
De Bruyne could have applied the finishing touch the game and he deserved – but curled his shot against the post.