WOLVERHAMPTON, England (Reuters) – Manchester City’s midfield genius Kevin De Bruyne scored four goals on Wednesday in a 5-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers to put his team in a commanding position to retain the Premier League with two games remaining.
The Belgian put the game to bed with a hat-trick in a devastating 18-minute spell in the first half, before notching a fourth after the break as the away fans alternated between chanting “Kevin De Bruyne” and “Champions of England”.
The win leaves Pep Guardiola’s side top on 89 points, three ahead of Liverpool whom they also lead on goal difference, with the title now firmly in their sights.
A second consecutive Premier League title would assuage disappointment at their Champions League exit, after City fell in the semis and Liverpool reached the final.
At Molineux, De Bruyne scored the third earliest hat-trick in Premier League history and his first for Manchester City.
For the first goal, he began the move before running on to Bernardo Silva’s return pass for a sumptuously-placed finish in the seventh minute. De Bruyne smashed in a rebound for his second in the 16th minute, before deploying his supposedly weaker left foot for a glorious curler from the edge of the box in the 24th.
“The third goal was my favourite. I think that strike is the cleanest. I hit it really hard in the corner. Out of the three, that was the purest,” he said.
“When you score four goals, it’s always something special. It should have been five to be honest!” he added, lamenting that a late strike hit the post.
No strangers to upsetting Premier League big boys, Wolves had briefly threatened when Leander Dendoncker made it 1-1 after a flowing break, before De Bruyne stole the show.
He scored a fourth from close range in the 60th minute, before team mate Raheem Sterling completed another easy win for City with his 84th-minute goal.
Guardiola was purring at his midfielder, praising him for both creating and scoring so many goals for Manchester City in recent years. “Unstoppable, brilliant, awesome, outstanding, perfect,” he said.
Manchester City play West Ham away and then Aston Villa at home in their remaining two Premier League fixtures, with one win and a draw guaranteeing the title.
Liverpool have an FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday before facing Southampton away and Wolves at home in their last two league matches.
Defeat left Wolves in eighth position on 50 points.
“When you have players like De Bruyne, who can always change the game, you can have a strategy, but when it comes to players like this, they can score four goals and finish the game,” said Wolves first team coach Carlos Cachada.
“With that performance we can do nothing about it.”
(Reporting by Andrew CawthorneEditing by Toby Davis)