English Premier League: Champions Manchester City close on leaders Liverpool with win over Brentford

Phil Foden has scored a brilliantly composed hattrick, as Manchester City fought back to earn a 3-1 win at battling Brentford and close to within two points of English Premier League leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.

Despite almost constant City pressure, Brentford led with a Neal Maupay goal after 21 minutes, but Foden levelled just before halftime, then add two more excellent goals, as the visitors took control with another display of possession and probing.

Phil Foden celebrates a goal against Brentford.
Phil Foden celebrates a goal against Brentford. Photo credit: Getty Images

Beaten by Arsenal on Sunday, Liverpool lead the table on 51 points from 23 games, but City are up to 49 from 22 and Arsenal on 49 from 23. Remarkably, Brentford did the double over City last season, beating them 1-0 in London in the last game in May, when the title was already secure, after winngin 2-1 at the Etihad in November with two Ivan Toney goals.

Another win looked unlikely after the early exchanges, as Julian Alvarez had two curling shots pushed wide by Mark Flekken, who then made an even better save to push clear a swerving long-range Kyle Walker shot that he saw late.

Brentford struck first, via a Sunday football goal, as Flekken launched a goal-kick that Nathan Ake, under pressure from Toney, failed to touch. Maupay was left with a clear run on goal and calmly tucked the ball into the bottom corner after 21 minutes.

Maupay could not buy a goal while at Everton, but has now scored five in the last five games in all competitions, while on loan at Brentford.

Erling Haaland had a chance to equalise immediately, but Flekken again came to the rescue with his feet, before saving yet again from Josko Gvardial.

Brentford then won a series of corners and the remarkable sight of putting nine men in the six-yard box, with only one outfield player from each side occupying the remaining 90 metres of grass.

They came to nothing though and City levelled in first-half stoppage time, when Foden seized on a weak clearance header, calmly chesting the ball down and sweeping it in with his side's 17th attempt on goal in the half.

The ever-elusive Foden again put them ahead, after Kevin de Bruyne clipped in a perfect cross for the unmarked midfielder to glance home in the 53rd minute.

Spirited Brentford had a flurry of attempts, but City dealt with them, before Foden completed his treble with another calm finish, after a one-two with Haaland in the 70th minute.

The turnaround was hardly a surprise, as City had won their last three away league games, despite going behind, while Brentford are the worst in the league for throwing away leads - costing them a nominal 26 points already this season.