Manchester recorded a blistering second half to clinch a commanding 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at the Etihad on Saturday to cut the gap between them and Liverpool to just three points and send a strong warning to the League leaders.
Pep Guardiola’s side endured a turgid first half but put together a half worthy of their status as the reigning champions to see off the challenge of the Villains and climb above Leicester City to second on the Premier League table.
Three second half goals from Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Gundogan handed all three points to the Citizens to confirm their status as Liverpool’s greatest challengers to the league title.
The visitors battled hard to limit the hosts to very few chances in a first half that ended goalless – the first time City had failed to score a first half goal in consecutive home Premier League games since Watford ended up going down 3-1 here last March.
Aston Villa’s resistance was however broken just a minute into the second half as Sterling took advantage of some slack defending to hand the hosts the lead.
Jesus nodded a long ball down to Sterling who raced through on goal and rolled his shot under Heaton’s legs. All Villa’s good work in the first half was undone in about 20 seconds. That fine strike was Sterling’s 13th goal in 14 appearances in all competitions so far this season, more than any other Premier League player.
Belgium international De Bruyne made it 2-0 twenty minutes later. City took a corner short which Mendy passed back to De Bruyne on the left flank. The Belgian curled the ball in with his right foot. David Silva appeared to have poked it into the net but VAR took a long look and decided to allow it.
The hosts soon made certain of victory on the stroke of 70 minutes. City were awarded their 11th corner of a game they so dominated. The ball found its way to Bernardo Silva, who fired wide from very close range. Gundogan was however on hand to rifle in the rebound from the edge of the box.
Liverpool play Tottenham later on Saturday and have the chance to extend their lead at the top of the table back to six points with a victory over Spurs.