Manchester City swiftly climbed to second place in the Premier League just two points behind leaders Liverpool as Phil Foden’s hat-trick became the catalyst for their convincing victory over Brentford

The hosts initially took the lead with Neal Maupay’s quick goal in the 21st minute, but heroic goalkeeping by Bees’ goalkeeper Mark Flekken kept the defending champions at bay with a series of brilliant saves until Foden scored a goal towards the end of the first half.

Foden’s goal provided the additional momentum City needed, and he scored his second eight minutes after the break by sneaking behind Brentford’s defense to head Kevin de Bruyne’s cross past the open Flekken.

Despite Brentford’s dominance, they had brief chances to equalize, especially when Ivan Toney unleashed a close-range volley, but City was far superior and secured the win 20 minutes before the end when Foden headed the ball past Flekken from Erling Haaland’s pass.

In the closing stages, there was a scuffle between Kyle Walker and Maupay, with the former needing to be pacified by manager Pep Guardiola, who refused to comment after the game.

City kicked into gear
Although Manchester City only managed to breach Flekken at the end of the first half, it was no more than they deserved after bombarding Brentford’s goal with shots before finally finding the net.

With Haaland still recovering from a foot injury and not fully fit, Foden took on the responsibility of scoring with his second senior hat-trick, having scored three goals in the 6-3 derby win against Manchester United in October 2022.

It was a worrying performance from City, not only because they were approaching the top of the table but also with the world-class duo of Haaland and De Bruyne playing together for the first time since the season opener against Burnley in August.

Traditionally, this is when City hits their peak performance, and the statistics began to show signs of another attacking display, making it their seventh consecutive win since clinching the Club World Cup by defeating Fluminense in late December.

City could top the table with a win against Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, leaving a growing footprint in the race for the Premier League title.

Flekken’s readiness not enough for Brentford
Brentford displayed their usual mix of energy and resilience but ultimately couldn’t match up to Manchester City.

There is no shame for Thomas Frank’s team, and until the last moments of the first half, when a misdirected header from Ethan Pinnock was collected by Foden, Brentford still hoped for an unlikely win thanks to Maupay’s composed finish after a long pass from Flekken.

It was all thanks to Flekken’s outstanding performance, who was exceptional as City unleashed 17 shots, 10 of which were on target, in just the first 45 minutes.z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z

Flekken saved twice from Julian Alvarez, blocked Haaland’s shot with his foot, and also thwarted Kyle Walker, Josko Gvardiol, De Bruyne, and Foden before the latter finally broke through Brentford’s defense.

After that, there was only one winner, but Brentford had positives, including goals in five consecutive games for striker Maupay, who continued his resurgence after a tough time at Everton where he only scored one goal in 32 appearances, including 14 starts.