Kevin De Bruyne bagged a ridiculous four-goal haul to send Manchester City three points clear atop the Premier League.
After Liverpool drew level with City following their win against Aston Villa, Pep Guardiola’s men knew that any sign of weakness would cede a huge advantage to the Reds who could even be FA Cup winners by the time they next play in the Premier League (and their last two games are much easier match-ups for them than City’s are for them).
And with a defensive injury crisis forcing 37 year-old Fernandinho to play in the centre of defence, City needed a hero to stand tall and carry them them forward to glory, and that hero was Kevin De Bruyne.
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First, De Bruyne opened the scoring after a beautiful exchange of passes with Bernardo Silva saw the Portuguese lift the ball into the box for De Bruyne to run onto and stroke home with his left foot.
Wolves equalised with a devastating counter-attack less than five minutes later and suddenly it looked like City were going to have a real fight on their hands to stay well clear of Liverpool.
Well just over five minutes later a beautiful City passing move saw Oleksandr Zinchenko find De Bruyne inbetween Wolves’ midfield and defence, and the Belgian swiveled around the moving ball before deftly lifting it through to Raheem Sterling with his first-touch. Sterling hesitated before attacking the ball but José Sa’s bundled save rolled out only to De Bruyne who slotted home with no hesitation.
Only three centre-midfielders have scored 4 goals in a single Premier League game:
◎ Frank Lampard (2008 & 2010)
◎ Georginio Wijnaldum (2015)
◉ Kevin De Bruyne (2022)
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 11, 2022
Just over 20 minutes into the game De Bruyne picked the ball up on the right and simply ran straight at the heart of the Wolves defence before unleashing a brutal low drive into the far bottom corner to seal a remarkable hat-trick, with all goals coming with his left-foot. The treble was De Bruyne’s first since 2011 when he was a Genk player, and was also the third-fastest hat-trick in Premier League history.
“I’m never afraid to shoot with the left,” said the Belgian after the game. “Whenever you get the opportunity, don’t hesitate.”
That stunning weak-foot hat-trick alone would have surely put him over the edge in the race for PFA Player of the Year. But De Bruyne popped up in the second-half to finish a move he started with a quickfire shot with his right-foot making him just the third midfielder in Premier League history to score four in one game.
A truly ridiculous display that surely puts him onto 15 league goals, his best-ever haul for a single season and leaves him clear of any possible rival for any further individual award. For his part, De Bruyne speaks on the tactical value to shooting: “If you shoot a lot maybe they won’t press you and then there will be a moment to pass the ball in behind.”
That certainly happened in this game as De Bruyne began making even more phenomenal passes in the second-half and but for some weak finishing from Raheem Sterling, City could have won this by even more than the four goal margin they did.
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In terms of the title, De Bruyne’s “poker” hasn’t quite given City a winning hand, but the Belgian’s four goal haul puts Pep Guardiola’s men four points away from retaining the Premier League title for a second time and making it four titles in five seasons. Those are both feats achieved only by Sir Alex Ferguson in the Premier League era and would put City and their manager into true rarefied air.
What’s more, De Bruyne is the reigning PFA Player of the Year is chasing a historic third win in that individual award. And while he lost out on this season’s FWA Footballer of the Year to Mohamed Salah, his performance here will surely make him the favourite to surpass Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale by winning his third PFA Player of the Year, his third in a row, at that!
Kevin De Bruyne doesn’t just break records, he shatters them.