Christian Pulisic seemed to surprise himself with his hat trick for Chelsea.
As he left the field after the 4-2 defeat of Burnley on Saturday, the young American needed reminding by his teammates that scoring three goals means you get to keep the ball.
“I didn’t realize that was the tradition,” he said. “My teammates helped me out.”
Pulisic hadn’t scored for Chelsea before but seized his chance on his first English Premier League start since August, extending Chelsea’s unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions.
Manchester City took back second place with rather less flair.
Just closing to within three points of leader Liverpool, which plays on Sunday, wasn’t good enough for manager Pep Guardiola, though, who accused his team of playing “just 45” minutes in its 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
Brighton beat Everton 3-2 in stoppage time, while Bournemouth lost more of its early momentum in a draw with Watford.
The Pulisic show
There have been U.S. stars in the Premier League before, but none quite like Pulisic.
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder arrived in the summer with his star status already confirmed with dazzling performances for Germany’s Borussia Dortmund.
Still, it took him months to make his mark in the Premier League. There were some slightly hesitant substitute appearances and intense competition for places with other young players such as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount.
On Saturday, none of that seemed to matter. Pulisic showed off his versatility with his first goal in the 21st minute, stealing the ball from defender Matt Lowton, sprinting forward, beating the experienced James Tarkowski, and shooting precisely inside the far post.
The second goal saw Pulisic beat Tarkowski again before hitting a deflected shot, and the third was a fine header off Mount’s cross, again showcasing Pulisic’s versatility.
Scoring a Premier League hat trick was something only one American had done before, Clint Dempsey in 2012.
Even with Pulisic’s standout play in attack, Chelsea looked fragile. Burnley had good chances to score in the first half, and briefly looked capable of a shock comeback following goals in the 86th and 89th minutes.
Part-time Man City
Guardiola was left unimpressed with his team despite their three-goal winning margin.
Villa put up stern resistance in the first half, but City seized control of the game when Raheem Sterling scored on a rapid, direct move 20 seconds into the second half.
“The second (half) we play in the way we normally are but we have to try and play 90 minutes,” Guardiola said. “We played just 45.”
Guardiola was full of praise for Sterling, who scored his fourth goal this week after a hat trick against Atalanta on Tuesday.
“Normally the next game you play a bit like, `How good I am,’ and he was completely opposite,” he said.
Sterling’s role in City’s second goal was more controversial. Officially, the goal was direct from a cross-shot by Kevin de Bruyne, but Villa manager Dean Smith said he believed David Silva touched the ball when Sterling was obstructing the goalkeeper.
Ilkay Gundogan added City’s third off a corner.
Own goal drama
Brighton staged the comeback of the day, winning 3-2 thanks to a stoppage-time own goal from Everton’s Lucas Digne.
Everton had been leading 2-1 before a hotly disputed penalty call against Michael Keane, who trod on the foot of Brighton’s Aaron Connolly. The spot kick was awarded after a video assistant referee check and converted by Neal Maupay.
Four minutes into added time, Digne knocked a cross into his own net to hand Brighton the three points.
Lys Mousset was the key man again for Sheffield United. On Monday, the Frenchman scored the winning goal against Arsenal, and on Saturday he scored to salvage a 1-1 draw against rival West Ham.
It was the first time the teams met in the league since the 2006-07 season left bad blood between them.
That year, West Ham signed Argentine stars Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano on third-party ownership deals which broke Premier League rules. Tevez’s goals helped West Ham avoid relegation while Sheffield went down.
Bournemouth and Watford played out a 0-0 draw which disappointed both teams. Bournemouth had been seeking to cement its place in the top half, while Watford was desperate to end its winless start to the season.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.