Sergio Aguero equalled a Premier League record by scoring five times as Manchester City returned to winning ways with a 6-1 demolition of Newcastle United.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team lost on their previous two league outings against West Ham and Tottenham and there were fears they would suffer a repeat dose at the Etihad Stadium when Aleksandar Mitrovic opened the scoring with his first Newcastle goal.
Aguero headed the hosts level three minutes from the end of a keenly contested first half, which stood in stark contrast to the second.
City’s Argentina superstar collected passes from David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to claim the matchball by the 50th minute.
After De Bruyne volleyed a wonderful fourth, Aguero had time to add two more before departing to a standing ovation in the 66th minute – becoming the fifth player in Premier League history to score five in a match after Andy Cole, Alan Shearer, Jermain Defoe and Dimitar Berbatov.
The result moves City back to the top of the table ahead of Manchester United’s trip to Arsenal on Sunday, while Steve McClaren’s crestfallen and winless Newcastle fall to the bottom of the table on goal difference.
Pablo Zabaleta came into the City XI for his first start of the season following a knee problem, with Eliaquim Mangala back from a groin complaint and Fernando replacing the injured Yaya Toure.
A calf strain meant Jack Colback made way for Yoan Gouffran in the Newcastle midfield and the visitors began confidently – Moussa Sissoko thundering a volley over inside 30 seconds.
City’s first sight of goal ended with a double save from Tim Krul, the Netherlands international plunging to his right to push out De Bruyne’s free-kick and denying Fernando when the midfielder tried to poke home the rebound.
Mitrovic instinctively flicked a chance into Joe Hart’s gloves and the Serbia striker opened the scoring in the 18th minute.
Georginio Wijnaldum was alert after Mangala blocked Kevin Mbabu’s initial cross, picking out Mitrovic to nod home.
Daryl Janmaat had a goal ruled out for offside against Ayoze Perez and Mitrovic headed over before Hart brilliantly denied the same player, having once again been betrayed by his ramshackle defence.
Aguero flashed a low left-footed shot narrowly past the post and Fernandinho thumped a volley into the turf and wide before the South American duo combined for the equaliser.
Silva was the architect, manufacturing space from a short corner and lifted the ball to Fernandinho and the back post, who nodded across goal to give Aguero a simple headed finish.
Jesus Navas replaced Raheem Sterling at half-time – the winger’s pace serving to stretch Newcastle and Aguero took full advantage.
Silva pounced on an error from Mbabu to find Aguero, who cut onto his left foot for a deflected shot to beat Krul.
De Bruyne released him a minute later to complete an eight-minute treble with a delicate, dinked finish and the Belgium international scored for the third top-flight match in succession when he swivelled to send an acrobatic near-post volley from Navas’ right-wing cross over Krul.
There was an air of inevitability when Aguero gathered the ball on the left-hand corner of the area in the 60th minute, moving it onto his right foot to send an unerring finish into the far corner.
A scarcely believable period of five Aguero goals in 22 minutes concluded when he turned in De Bruyne’s cutback.
Substitute strikers Wilfried Bony and Kelechi Iheanacho passed up opportunities to deepen Newcastle’s misery – thankfully for Pellegrini, his main man had already dealt out more than enough brutal punishment.