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five star Kevin De Bruyne reflects on his latest wonder show as Man City close in on the title

The Belgian took centre stage at Molineux.

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Kevin De Bruyne dominated at Molineux (Nick Pots/PA)

Kevin De Bruyne dominated at Molineux (Nick Pots/PA)

Kevin De Bruyne dominated at Molineux (Nick Pots/PA)

Kevin De Bruyne scored four goals as Manchester City restored a three-point lead at the Premier League summit with a 5-1 win at Wolves.

The playmaker rattled in a left-footed hat-trick inside the opening 24 minutes and added another on the hour as City demonstrated the firepower they have even before Erling Haaland arrives next season.

City’s victory was also an emphatic response to title rivals Liverpool’s success over Aston Villa the previous night and tightened their grip on the title race with just two games to play.

The De Bruyne show was briefly interrupted by a Leander Dendoncker strike early on but a late Raheem Sterling tap-in ensured they would score five for a second successive game.

With the extra insurance of a goal difference now plus seven better than their Merseyside rivals, City are closing in on their fourth title in five seasons.

The only downside was the loss of Aymeric Laporte in the second half, joining fellow defenders John Stones, Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker on the sidelines.

"It was a great start from the team and myself. I thought we played a good game away so I'm very happy with the team," said De Bruyne.

"I try to understand the situation better. If my team makes the movements I try and find them. The connection with the team has been exceptional and that's why I love playing with them.

"We alternated really well. Whenever Bernardo Silva or Phil Foden was going into the space, we went vice versa. Whenever we had opportunities in the first half we scored and that changed the dynamic of the game.

"Whenever [Liverpool] play you watch the game or the scores. Both teams have the most respect because we know how hard it is and we've been doing it for years. Whenever we play we have to play the game we play. That's what we did today and we will have to do the same against West Ham.

"West Ham had a great season and played really well. It is their last home game of the season so we know it will be a tough one. We don't have a lot of players but now it is commitment but it is going to be hard."

Having already deployed Fernandinho as a makeshift centre-back and with Nathan Ake having not been fit enough to start, manager Pep Guardiola will anxiously await updates on the Spain international’s condition.

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Yet the story of Wednesday evening was all about De Bruyne, although the Belgian offered a nod to the headlines of the day by celebrating one of his goals in the manner of incoming signing Haaland.

Wolves, whose manager Bruno Lage was missing for a second successive game after testing positive for Covid-19, were overrun.

De Bruyne almost set up a goal within the opening moments but Phil Foden was inches away from connecting with his low ball.

His opening goal came after seven minutes as Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa invited more pressure with a poor clearance.

Bernardo Silva brought the ball under control and slipped De Bruyne in on goal with a fine through-ball. De Bruyne made no mistake as he drilled a low shot past Sa.

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Phil Foden could not believe Kevin De Bruyne’s third goal (Nick Potts/PA)

Phil Foden could not believe Kevin De Bruyne’s third goal (Nick Potts/PA)

Phil Foden could not believe Kevin De Bruyne’s third goal (Nick Potts/PA)

Yet for all their brilliance in attack, City did look vulnerable in the absence of Stones and Dias.

Their weaknesses were exposed just four minutes later by a swift Wolves counter-attack.

Raul Jimenez chested down a clearance before pushing forward and releasing Pedro Neto, who raced into the area and squared for Dendoncker to tuck home.

It was a goal that electrified the home crowd – and will have been cheered by Liverpool fans elsewhere – but the celebrations were shortlived.

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De Bruyne, left, celebrated like new City signing Erling Haaland (Nick Potts/PA)

De Bruyne, left, celebrated like new City signing Erling Haaland (Nick Potts/PA)

De Bruyne, left, celebrated like new City signing Erling Haaland (Nick Potts/PA)

City were back in front just four minutes later. This time De Bruyne was looking to play in Sterling but Sa came out to intercept. The ball rolled back to De Bruyne and he rifled back past the keeper with the aid of a deflection.

He went on to add an extra stamp of class by completing his hat-trick soon after.

His third was all his own work as he cut in from the right following a City throw-in and curled a superb left-foot shot around Sa from the edge of the area.

To their credit Wolves attempted to fight back and Chiquinho felt he should have had a penalty after tangling with Oleksandr Zinchenko in the area but referee Martin Atkinson gave only a corner.

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Raheem Sterling also got in on the act at Molineux (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Raheem Sterling also got in on the act at Molineux (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Raheem Sterling also got in on the act at Molineux (Bradley Collyer/PA)

There were further penalty shouts at either end. First Sterling – having been played in by De Bruyne – went down and then Wolves appealed for handball against Fernandinho from their subsequent quick counter.

Neither were given and Sterling was also denied by an offside flag after putting the ball in the net early in the second half.

De Bruyne grabbed his fourth on the hour after leading another break and finding Foden in the area. Foden looked inside for Sterling but his pass took a ricochet and fell kindly for De Bruyne to score again.

De Bruyne was doing wonders for City’s goal difference but Laporte’s injury, after a collision with Jimenez, did temper their joy slightly.

Yet City continued to press and hit the post through Foden before Sterling tapped in their fifth late on.

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