LONDON: In-form Raheem Sterling hit a hat-trick as Manchester City began a potentially turbulent few days by blowing away Brighton to secure second place in the Premier League.

Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva were also on target to help City emphatically end a run of three successive top-flight defeats on the road with a thumping 5-0 victory.

Pep Guardiola’s side are now assured of finishing runners-up to runaway leaders Liverpool but whether they will qualify for next season’s Champions League remains another matter.

On Monday the club will discover the outcome of their appeal against a two-year ban from European club competitions following alleged breaches of club licensing and financial fair play regulations.

While that ongoing issue remains a major concern, there was plenty for City smile about on Saturday evening as the potent Sterling took his goal tally in all competitions to 27, the most prolific campaign of his career to date.

City repeatedly showed glimpses of their mesmerising best and on another day would have won by an even greater margin as Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne each rattled the woodwork.

Outclassed Albion repeatedly afforded their dominant visitors oceans of space and offered little resistance. The Seagulls remain eight points clear of the relegation zone following a second home defeat in just four days.

Burnley foil Liverpool

Burnley became the first team to prevent Liverpool winning in the league at Anfield this season as their 1-1 draw ended hopes of an historic 100 per cent home record.

The game was one of the most one-sided 1-0s imaginable after Andy Robertson’s opener but a combination of the brilliance of Clarets goalkeeper Nick Pope and wayward finishing cost Jurgen Klopp’s side before Jay Rodgriguez’s equaliser.

That goal also put a dent in the Premier League champions’ quest to break Manchester City’s 100-point record, now requiring victories in their final three matches if they are set a new mark of 102.

Liverpool were also the width of a crossbar away from losing their proud three-year, 58-game unbeaten home league record after Johann Gudmundsson crashed a late shot against the woodwork.

There was the unusual feeling of the hosts hanging on at the end as Burnley – the first team to take a point at Anfield in 25 matches since Leicester in January 2019 – suddenly found their confidence, leaving Klopp to voice his frustrations at referee David Coote at the final whistle.

David McGoldrick struck twice as Sheffield United secured their most impressive win of the season with a fully-deserved 3-0 defeat of Chelsea.

McGoldrick scored his first Premier League goal and pounced again to seal a stunning victory in the second period after Oli McBurnie’s fine header had given the Blades a 2-0 half-time lead.

This season keeps getting better for Chris Wilder’s side, who climbed up to sixth place, four points behind Manchester United, to give their Europa League hopes another big boost.

The manner of the Blades’ victory was even more impressive considering Chelsea had recently moved up to third spot in pursuit of a Champions League berth after winning five of their previous six league matches.

The Blues, roundly beaten in their first match at Bramall Lane in nearly 14 years, could slip out of the top four on Monday if both Leicester and Manchester United win their game in hand.

Antonio hits five

Michail Antonio’s four goals sealed Norwich’s relegation from the Premier League and boosted West Ham’s hopes of surviving in the process with a 4-0 thrashing at Carrow Road.

Antonio’s two goals in the first half put an end to Norwich’s already slim hopes of survival, but the Hammers’ emphatic victory was sealed when he struck twice more in the second period to become the first Hammers player to net four in a Premier League game.

Antonio, who has played in most positions for the Hammers, took his tally to six goals since the restart and the victory gives David Moyes’ side a six-point cushion over Bournemouth and Aston Villa ahead of their weekend clashes, against Leicester and Crystal Palace respectively.

Troy Deeney scored a brace of penalties as Watford came from behind to beat Newcastle and take a huge step towards securing Premier League survival.

As they did against Norwich in midweek, the Hornets conceded first at Vicarage Road before rallying back to win 2-1 – this time Deeney hammering home two spot-kicks after Dwight Gayle had given the visitors a half-time lead. Deeney had not scored in six games but Nigel Pearson’s captain came up with the goods when it mattered most.

The last came 10 minutes from time and Newcastle could not muster up a response of their own as Watford picked up their second win in four days to bolster their bid to remain in the top flight.