A Raheem Sterling hat-trick inspired Manchester City to a resounding 5-0 victory against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex stadium.
Manchester City, who came into the game following a impressive 5-0 home win against Newcastle in midweek, got into top gear pretty quickly and they were ahead in the 21st minute through Sterling.
The England international picked out the bottom-right corner with a curled effort from the edge of the box after the ball was nodded into his path by Gabriel Jesus, following Riyad Mahrez’s clipped pass forward.
Jesus then saw an effort hit the crossbar after taking a deflection off Lewis Dunk, but it did not take long for the Brazilian to get on the scoresheet when the visitors doubled their advantage to 2-0 two minutes before the break.
Kevin De Bruyne’s outswinging corner was flicked on by Rodri at the near post, which created a simple tap-in for Jesus at the back post for his 20th goal of the season.
City picked up in the second half where they left off in the first and De Bruyne was inches away from making it three when his powerful free-kick rattled the post. It was three moments later as Sterling headed in a perfect cross from Mahrez from close range.
Brighton had no answer to City’s free-flowing football and it was 4-0 minutes later when Bernardo Silva tucked away a simple finish on the rebound, after Ryan failed to hold on to the Portugal international’s initial effort.
Sterling completed his hat-trick in bizarre fashion when he latched on to a long ball forward before an attempted defensive header from Adam Webster looped up and struck him on the head before rolling into the net, despite the efforts of Dan Burn on the goaline.
Manchester City have now secured second place in the Premier League, and qualified for next season’s Champions League ahead of their European ban appeal decision on Monday.
Sterling has now scored six goals in his last six Premier League games to take his personal goal tally to 27 for the season, his best campaign for goals in his career.
Sterling believes his goals will only mean something if they help Manchester City to more silverware. While hopes of lifting the league title were ended long ago, City still hope to add Champions League and FA Cup trophies to the Carabao Cup they won in February.
“The most important thing to me is the value of these goals, that they add to the team,” Sterling said after the match.
“At the end of day we’re trying to win the FA Cup final and win the Champions League as well, otherwise these goals don’t really mean anything.”
Manchester City are back in action on Wednesday when they host relegation-threatened Bournemouth, while Brighton will travel to Southampton on Thursday.
Other Premier League results
Norwich City0-4 West Ham United
Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
Sheffield United 3-0 Chelsea.