Raheem Sterling scored a match-winning hat-trick as Manchester City beat Norwich City 4-0 at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Manchester City finished the first half with a slender lead following a dogged performance, which would not have left Pep Guardiola delighted. In the opening period, Norwich City indeed took the game to their visitors in a resolute display, forcing Ederson Moraes into a couple of solid saves.
It took a special effort from Raheem Sterling to break the deadlock just after the half-hour mark, as the English international curled the ball into the net from the edge of the box after receiving a stray cross from Kyle Walker. Pep Guardiola’s half-time talk seemed to have done wonders, with Manchester City on the money from kick-off immediately after the break.
The visitors doubled their advantage in the 48th minute through Phil Foden, who scored from close in after some superb work by Ilkay Gundogan. Manchester City remained firmly in control before putting the game to bed in the 70th minute through Sterling, who finished a move from a corner from point-blank range.
Sterling went on to add further sheen to the scoreline in the dying embers of the game after Grant Hanley brought Liam Delap down in the box. Sterling missed his penalty before bundling home the rebound calmly. With Liverpool slated to face Burnley on Sunday, the win has helped Manchester City stretch their lead atop the Premier League to 12 points. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Pep Guardiola’s men.
Raheem Sterling has now scored as many Premier League hat-tricks (5) as:
? Ian Wright
? Dimitar Berbatov
? Andy Cole
? Ruud van Nistelrooy
? Robin van Persie
Only eight players in the competition's history have more. ? pic.twitter.com/ooVQYB6gvw
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 12, 2022
Ederson Moraes: 7/10
Ederson did not have a lot of goalkeeping work to do, but he made a couple of solid stops to retain his clean sheet. The Brazilian goalkeeper also showcased his distribution abilities brilliantly, completing 90 per cent of his attempted passes.
Kyle Walker: 7/10
Walker made a slow start to the game, suffering a couple of hairy moments against Milot Rashica. But the Englishman became untouchable once he found his feet. And it was Walker’s stray cross that found Raheem Sterling in the build-up to his first goal.
Ruben Dias: 7/10
Dias took on the leadership mantle during the defensive phases despite Fernandinho’s presence in the side. The Portuguese international made five clearances while completing 94 per cent of his attempted passes. He was also a threat during set-piece situations, and the defender grabbed the assist for Sterling’s second, effortlessly finding the hat-trick hero in open space.
Nathan Ake: 7/10
Making a rare Premier League start, Ake endured a couple of nervy moments in the first half but came through unscathed. The Dutchman pulled his socks up after the interval, winning seven duels while precisely building up play from the back. During set-piece situations, Ake even played two key passes, becoming a key outlet.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 8/10
Pep Guardiola took advantage of the Norwich game to rest several key players, and Joao Cancelo was one of them. With the Portuguese international getting a breather, Oleksandr Zinchenko made a rare start in the Premier League. And the Ukrainian utility man was in his element, pushing forward with purpose and becoming a potent outlet while retaining a brilliant 91 per cent passing rate.
Bernardo Silva: 8/10
Silva will consider himself unfortunate not to have scored on Saturday. The Portuguese playmaker came close to finding the back of the net early in the first half, but his beautiful curler smashed the upright. Silva continued pulling the strings smartly, playing a game-high four key passes while misplacing only three of his attempted passes. His remarkable turnaround continues.
With Rodri rested, Fernandinho sat at the base of the Manchester City midfield and pulled the strings effortlessly. The Manchester City captain had some heavy lifting to do in the first half but enjoyed himself after the break, with his side in firm control. The veteran midfielder even came close to scoring once, but that was the only major miss in an otherwise top-notch display.
Ilkay Gundogan: 8/10
Starting ahead of Kevin De Bruyne, Gundogan was relentless in his performance and could have been awarded the man of the match award if not for Sterling’s heroics. The German international unleashed several darting runs through the midfield, with one such burst creating the second goal, which Phil Foden scored. On another day, he could have scored once, too.
Riyad Mahrez: 7/10
Mahrez, the Player to Watch in our preview, might not have found the back of the net, but he was critical in putting Norwich City under relentless pressure. The Algerian attacker linked up superbly with Bernardo Silva, created three chances while misplacing only two passes throughout his stint on the pitch.
Phil Foden: 8/10
Starting as the central striker instead of Raheem Sterling, Foden was handed a free role, and he helped create space for those around him with his ghosting runs around the Norwich box. The English international enabled in heaping pressure on the hosts by completing most of his attempted passes while also scoring a top-class goal.
Raheem Sterling: 10/10
PEP ? He [Sterling] made a fantastic game. Especially after the goal – he was so aggressive and direct. He made a fantastic goal the second one he was there. He has been an incredibly important player in all these seasons with the amount of goals and assists. pic.twitter.com/y23xNgBqnh
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 12, 2022
Sterling has rediscovered his best form in recent weeks, and his solid run continued against Norwich City. The Englishman was the brightest spot in a difficult first half for Manchester City, and a moment of genius enabled him to break the deadlock. Sterling continued to go from strength to strength in the second period, showing good composure to complete a memorable hat-trick.
James McAtee: N/A
Fresh off signing a new contract with Manchester City, McAtee did not see much of the ball in the final 15 minutes of the game, with the Premier League champions in cruise control mode.
Liam Delap: N/A
On for Foden, Delap barely had anything to do in the dying embers of the game, although he won the penalty that Sterling failed to convert before completing his hat-trick from the rebound.
A late introduction, Kayky made his Premier League debut but barely got a touch in his cameo.