Britain’s hat-trick destroys Norwich as Man City take 12-point lead

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Norwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City went 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League as Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick inspired a 4-0 win over Norwich on Saturday.

Sterling put City ahead in the first half at Carrow Road and Phil Foden doubled the champions’ lead early in the second half.

England striker Sterling scored twice more in the closing stages to complete his seventh career hat-trick.

Pep Guardiola’s side are unbeaten in their last 15 league games, with 14 wins in that streak keeping them firmly on track to retain the title.

Second-placed Liverpool can close the gap to nine points if they win at struggling Burnley on Sunday in the first of their two games in hand against City.

Liverpool show no signs of giving up, but City have won 18 of their last 20 games in all competitions.

Guardiola believes his side will need ‘over 90 points’ to hold Liverpool back in the title race.

On their current imperious form, achieving that goal might not be much of a problem for City.

With an eye on Tuesday’s Champions League round of 16 first leg at Sporting Lisbon, Guardiola made five changes from the midweek win over Brentford, with Kevin De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo among the rested players.

Bernardo Silva was inches away from giving City the perfect start when his sixth-minute strike hit the post and bounced off Norwich keeper Angus Gunn.

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Third bottom, Norwich had taken seven points from their last three league games to improve their chances of staying up.

And Dean Smith’s side responded to City’s opening salvo with a period of pressure that saw Grant Hanley meet Pierre Lees-Melou’s cross with a header that hit the post before Fernandinho cleared it.

Sterling tried to put City back in the ascendancy, but his low shot from Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross lacked the power to beat Gunn, who saved with his outstretched boot.

It was a warning Norwich ignored and Sterling put City ahead in the 31st minute.

Max Aarons made a chop to clear Kyle Walker’s cross and Sterling took possession in the Norwich area, moving the ball to his right foot before curling a nice shot into the far corner.

Sterling’s 10th club goal of the season was his first since December 26.

City had won each of the last 20 Premier League games they had taken the lead and Riyad Mahrez almost doubled their advantage with a shot near the post which Gunn saved on alert.

Norwich’s hopes of emulating their shock win over City on their last league visit to Norwich in 2019 were dashed by Foden in the 48th minute.

Foden’s early effort from Ilkay Gundogan’s cross was blocked by Gunn, but the England midfielder hung on to the rebound and his shot went over the line before Hanley could clear.

City were on cruise control and Sterling underlined their superiority in the 70th minute.

Ruben Dias rose the highest to cross the six-yard box and the unmarked Sterling was perfectly placed to nod into the empty net.

Deep in stoppage time, Hanley’s collision with Liam Delap was ruled out for a penalty and, although Sterling’s kick was saved by Gunn, he quickly recovered to score the rebound.

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