Manchester City hit top gear to sweep aside sorry Sunderland 5-0 and move into third spot in the English Premier League.
City were two up inside the first of 15 minutes when Adam Johnson scored on his first start in two-and-a-half months after an ankle injury and then Carlos Tevez fired in from the spot for his first goal in 10 games.
City went on to dominate the game and finally cut loose midway through the second half with three goals in 10 minutes from David Silva, Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure.
The victory sees Roberto Mancini’s side leapfrog Chelsea and move six points clear of Tottenham Hotspur in the race for a Champions League spot, although they have played a game more.
But Sunderland’s appalling form continues – with six defeats in their last seven games and without a goal for more than seven hours they are now only six points clear of the drop zone.
With a shortage of players at the back, City drafted in Dedryk Boyata for his first start since picking up a fourth-minute red card against Arsenal, while Sunderland brought back Michael Turner and Lee Cattermole to shore up their defence.
But it took just nine minutes for City to breach the backline, Johnson combining with Toure before sending Simon Mignolet the wrong way from 10 yards.
The second followed six minutes later from the spot when Tevez latched onto Silva’s through-ball and was hauled down by Phil Bardsley. There were no complaints from the defender and Tevez finished albeit via a touch onto the post from Mignolet.
And City came close to extending their lead as they dominated possession, first Bardsley made a desperate block to keep out Tevez’s goalbound strike while Mignolet denied speculative efforts from Aleksandar Kolarov and Mario Balotelli.
Sunderland lacked little threat and Asomoah Gyan, who got the better of Joleon Lescott in Ghana’s draw with England five days before, was not posing the same threat with one long-range effort off target the only thing to excite the Sunderland fans.
The second half began in much the same fashion with Mignolet making fines saves from Johnson after a super sweeping move and then Balotelli after skipping past three Sunderland defenders.
The third goal finally came in the 64th minute with the Blues again cutting through the Sunderland defence and when Balotelli’s shot was blocked, Silva poked in the rebound from close range.
Everything was going City’s way and that was underlined moments later when Vieira came off the bench and within seconds slid home Kolarov’s driven cross with his first touch.
The rout was complete when the fifth was handed on a plate when Lee Cattermole, under pressure from Kolarov, played an horrendous square pass straight to Toure on the edge of the box and the Ivorian neatly finished past Mignolet.
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