Raheem Sterling finished his hat trick in goofy fashion as Manchester City cruised past Brighton and Hove Albion 5-0 at the Amex Stadium on Saturday to seal second place in the Premier League,.
A falling Sterling saw a looping ball bound off his head and roll over the line late in the contest, as City became the second team this season to break the 70-point barrier with 72.
Gabriel Jesus had a goal and two assists for City and Bernardo Silva scored City’s other goal as the runners-up clinched second place and moved 21 points back of Liverpool.
Brighton remains eight points outside the bottom three, not safe (but pretty much safe). The Seagulls did not get a single shot on target.
Raheem! Sterling! Hat! Trick!
— #MyPLSummer (@NBCSportsSoccer) July 11, 2020
Three things we learned
1. Sterling makes personal history: Sterling’s 25th, 26th, and 27th goals give him a new career-high in all competitions after scoring 25 in last season’s marquee run. He’s done it in six fewer outings, though his eight assists are a far cry from his usual pace. That said, the English winger still has three PL matches and at least one each of FA Cup and Champions League matches. It still could be his best season yet.
2. De Bruyne shows a quieter greatness: The Belgian is the favorite to win Premier League Player of the Year and could’ve had a couple more assists on Saturday. While his window to break Thierry Henry’s single-season assist record is becoming tighter, he’s still catching the eye with remarkable shows like his 7-of-7 performance on duels versus Brighton. De Bruyne is so well-positioned, so often, that he rarely puts himself in a position to fail.
3. Another zero: City kept a clean sheet away from home for the first time since Feb. 22 and the shutout gave Ederson back-to-back blanks for the second time of Project Restart (City blanked Arsenal and Burnley in its return to life in the PL).
Man of the Match:
Jesus — The Brazilian’s goal and two assists were part of a day that he completed six-of-seven dribbles despite taking less than 40 touches. He also won six of 11 duels and was credited with two interceptions. His 20 goals in all competitions is one away from the personal best set last season.
Brighton – Man City recap
City really found its footing around the quarter-hour mark and Raheem Sterling fed Benjamin Mendy for a blocked effort and corner kick. Eric Garcia just missed the back post on the ensuing set piece.
Sterling put CIty on the board in the 21st, taking a Gabriel Jesus flick of a Riyad Mahrez cross and rolling a classy low shot beyond the reach of Mat Ryan.
Mahrez then fed Mendy into the left of the box and the Frenchman lashed a shot off the outside of the net.
Kevin De Bruyne fed Jesus for a header popped over goal and Jesus cranked a deflected shot off the cross bar in the 36th.
Jesus danced in the box to lay off for Mahrez, who blazed wide of the far post.
It was another corner that made it 2-0, Rodri flicking the set piece to the back post for Jesus to knife into the goal.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
De Bruyne cranked a free kick off the goal post after halftime, and the third goal came soon.
Mahrez curled an invitation to the back post and Sterling leant into the header for a 3-0 lead in the 53rd.
Bernardo got City’s fourth off a Ryan error, as the goalkeeper couldn’t handle the player’s first shot and saw the rebound spill back onto the path of the Portuguese.Follow @NicholasMendola