Wolves 1 (Dendoncker 11) Manchester City 5 (De Bruyne 7, 16, 24 & 60, Sterling 84)
A stunning individual performance from Kevin De Bruyne sank Wolves to their fourth defeat in their last five Premier League outings on a hectic night of goalmouth action at Molineux.
The hosts would have felt they were in with a shout of causing an upset after Leander Dendoncker got Wolves back on level terms with just 10 minutes on the clock after his fellow Belgian had opened the scoring moments earlier.
But De Bruyne turned on the style to secure a first-half hat-trick with a couple of neatly finished opportunities before adding his fourth of the evening after the break. Wolves continued to put pressure on the City defence without breaching Ederson’s goal, but the side who moved further ahead at the top of the Premier League table scored a fifth through Raheem Sterling, who had plenty of chances to score, and finally beat Jose Sa from close-range.
Molineux was rocking as the players took to the pitch, and that atmosphere continued throughout the opening stages of the game as the Wolves players chased down every loose ball and tried their best to hold City at bay.
However, the raucous environment in the Black Country did not seem to be having an impact on the visitors, as they came close to opening the scores inside two minutes, when De Bruyne’s cross whipped into the centre of the Wolves box fell just out of the reach of Phil Foden’s outstretched leg.
It only took another five for City to find the back of the net. Bernardo Silva played a clever ball in between Conor Coady and Jonny into the path of the onrushing De Bruyne, and the midfielder took the ball in his stride before firing a low shot past Sa.
However, Wolves were playing with an intensity which has been lacking in their recent Molineux outings and despite Lage being absent once again from the stadium due to Covid, his players were not lacking direction, and were quickly back on level terms.
A quick counter-attack saw Raul Jimenez gain possession in the centre of the pitch, and having raced forward with a two-on-two situation, he laid the ball into the path of Pedro Neto, who cut the ball back to Dendoncker who was busting a gut to get into the box, before the Belgian fired a well-placed first-time effort beyond Ederson.
The game was turning one way and then the other. With just over a quarter of an hour on the clock, City were ahead once more. Sterling was picked out over the Wolves defence, but his shot was saved by Sa. However, the rebound fell kindly to De Bruyne who made no mistake from 12 yards out.
There was not much Wolves could do to step the other Belgian on the pitch, as De Bruyne secured his hat-trick within 24 minutes. Having won the ball in midfield, the City man drove forwards, with the gold and black shirts unable to stop him, he found himself in shooting position, before firing an unstoppable drive into the far corner.
In a half of football that never let up on incidents at either end of the pitch, Wolves were appealing for a penalty when Chiquinho went down under a clumsy looking challenge by Oleksandr Zinchenko. Referee Martin Atkinson pointed for a corner, and despite a quick VAR review, the decision stood.
Half-time | Wolves 1-3 Man City
The electric start to the first-half appeared to be repeating itself following the break, with Man City putting the ball into the back of the net within the opening two minutes, but fortunately for Wolves, the assistant’s flag went up for offside against Sterling, who had not timed his run past Willy Boly.
Wolves continued to cause issues for the visitors, mainly though Chiquinho down the right who was running rings around Zinchenko, and the Ukrainian defender was penalised for pulling the winger back when he was in a promising position, but Wolves were unable to trouble Ederson from the resulting free-kick.
The keeper was brought into action moments later when a Neto corner was headed back into the box by Dendoncker and found Conor Coady a few yards out, but the defender’s shot was palmed behind by the City number 31, but the effort wouldn’t have counted anyway, as the flag eventually went up for offside against the Wolves captain.
Despite Wolves’ attacking intent, the visitors – and De Bruyne – made it four on the hour mark, as he was picked out just inside the penalty area after Wolves were unable to deal with a dangerous Foden cross, and with a single touch, the Belgian guided the ball into the bottom right corner.
The hosts were indebted to their goalkeeper and the woodwork in keeping the score at just the four minutes later as Man City quickly broke with four on three. Foden was played into space on the left by De Bruyne and with just Sa to beat, the England man’s low shot was diverted onto the post by a strong hand from the stopper. Straight up the other end, Jimenez was denied from distance by Ederson, who tipped his goalbound shot over the crossbar.
If it wasn’t the post or Sa in their way, City were their own enemy to not add a fifth, as Sterling missed an open goal when he was picked out at the back post following slick combinations between De Bruyne and Foden, but it didn’t take the winger long to become the first non-Belgian to put their names on the scoresheet when he had the easiest of tap ins to divert Joao Cancelo’s cross into the net.
Sterling could have matches De Bruyne’s four goals if he was more clinical with his chances, having been picked out by his fellow scorer, and one-on-one with Sa, he rolled the ball wide of the target. The chances kept coming at both ends, moments after De Bruyne struck the post for City, substitute Hee Chan Hwang fired a shot across the face of Ederson’s goal from a tight angle as the game entered added time.
Full-time | Wolves 1-5 Man City
Wolves | Sa, Jonny, Boly, Coady, Ait-Nouri, Neves, Moutinho (Cundle 85), Dendoncker, Chiquinho, Neto (Trincao 72), Jimenez (Hwang 72).
Unused subs | Ruddy, Hoever, Toti, Mosquera, Marcal, Silva.
Man City | Ederson, Cancelo, Fernandinho (Mahrez 76), Laporte (Ake 61), Zinchenko, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Silva, Foden (Grealish 81), Sterling.
Unused subs | Steffen, Mbete, Egan-Riley, Lavia, Palmer, Jesus.
Referee | Martin Atkinson