Zen-sational KDB puts City on brink

Four-goal hero mimics Erling’s Buddha celebration as title glory nears,With his four-goal burst and ‘Zen’ celebration pose, Kevin De Bruyne did his best impersonation of a future Manchester City teammate on Wednesday.,Erling Haaland is joining City next season as one of the most sought-after strikers in world soccer and even he would be hard-pressed to produce the kind of finishing demonstrated by De Bruyne in a 5-1 rout of Wolverhampton Wanderers to maintain City’s English Premier League title charge on Wednesday.,After the Belgium midfielder completed his hat-trick-his first for City-by the 24th minute, he celebrated with the Zen pose adopted by Haaland in recent years at Borussia Dortmund.,De Bruyne said it wasn’t necessarily a nod to Haaland-”I just did it because I’d scored three,” he said-but they already appear to be on the same wavelength.,That is for the future, though.,The short term is all about retaining the title, and City restored its three-point lead over Liverpool with the win at Molineux. Pep Guardiola’s team needs four points from its final two games-against West Ham and Aston Villa-to guarantee first place but its superior goal difference of seven could mean three points is now enough.,City might be running out of defenders, however, after Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho-a midfielder who filled in at centerback-came off with what Guardiola described as “problems”. Centerbacks Ruben Dias and John Stones as well as rightback Kyle Walker are already out for the rest of the season because of injury.,Guardiola does, though, have De Bruyne in sublime form.,”In the second part of the league, he has been beyond perfect,” Guardiola said. “He was always a guy who is so generous and has the sense to make an assist, but I think this season he has the sense to be prolific and score goals.”,De Bruyne, who also struck a shot against the post late in the second half, said the title race with Liverpool is “crazy”.,”The standard we both set, you can only respect it,” De Bruyne said. “Both teams have the ultimate respect. We play hard, it’s the only thing we can do.”,Haa-py days,On Tuesday, City broke the news that it had beaten Europe’s top clubs to Haaland’s signature, with the coveted striker set to officially join on July 1 for around $63 million.,Wednesday’s thrashing of Wolves would surely have whetted the Norwegian’s appetite for next season, when City fans will hope the 21-year-old can help the club win its first Champions League title and likely defend the Premier League crown.,City looked to have dispelled any early nerves at Wolves by scoring first as Bernardo Silva teed up De Bruyne to fire first-time across goalkeeper Jose Sa.,Pedro Neto was allowed to gallop clear into the City box and picked out Leander Dendoncker to equalize on 11 minutes.,Parity only lasted another five minutes as De Bruyne was both creator and finisher of City’s second.,Raheem Sterling failed to connect with his pass through the heart of the Wolves defense, but Sa could only turn the ball back into De Bruyne’s path and the Belgian made no mistake.,The best was yet to come from the 30-year-old as he took aim from outside the box and arrowed a shot into the bottom corner to complete his hat-trick, with all three goals scored by his supposedly weaker left foot.,”My right is the stronger foot but I’m never afraid to shoot with my left because it creates a problem for the opposition,” said De Bruyne. “Whenever you get the opportunity, don’t hesitate.”,‘Should’ve been five’,De Bruyne’s treble was the third quickest hat-trick in Premier League history and his first since he played for Genk 11 years ago.,But there was even more to come after the break as he slotted home on his right foot after Phil Foden’s cross was deflected into his path.,More defensive injuries to Laporte and Fernandinho were the only negative of the night for City.,Yet, any deficiencies at the back are being masked by the firepower of Guardiola’s men at the moment.,Since a 2-2 draw with Liverpool left the title race on a knife edge last month, City has scored 23 goals in five games.,Foden hit the post and Sterling missed a sitter with the goal gaping at the back post.,But Sterling could not miss another open goal when Joao Cancelo’s deflected cross fell his way six minutes from time.,De Bruyne nearly had time for a fifth of his own in the final minute as he curled off the post.,”When you score four goals, it’s something special,” added De Bruyne. “It should’ve been five, to be honest.”,However, another five-star performance was more than enough for City to show Liverpool the leader is unlikely to cede ground down the home straight.,Agencies