David Silva scored both goals as Manchester City made light work of Stoke City in a routine 2-0 win at the bet365 Stadium, despite being without the injured Sergio Aguero.
Pep Guardiola was unable to select Aguero due to a knee injury, but the Argentina star's absence was hardly noticed as City edged a little closer to the Premier League title, with Silva stealing the show.
Any chance of struggling Stoke causing an upset looked over as early as the 10th minute, as Silva opened the scoring with aplomb after good work from Raheem Sterling, back from five games out with a hamstring injury.
The league leaders doubled their advantage early in the second half – Silva again providing a good finish after a well-worked move involving Gabriel Jesus, starting his first Premier League game of the year.
Stoke threatened to pull one back just after the hour, but Bruno Martins Indi shot over from close range and from there they looked devoid of hope as the visitors tightened their grip.
City were unable to add further goals despite their dominance, but it mattered little as they re-established a 16-point gap at the summit and secured a first league double over Stoke since 1998-99, when they were both in the third tier.
1999 – Manchester City haven’t done the league double over Stoke since the 1998-99 campaign, when they were in the third tier of English football. Nationwide. pic.twitter.com/4w2167uEgK— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 12, 2018
Much was made pre-game about Stoke's need to keep things tight and ensure they were still in the game during the final 20 minutes in order to maximise the impact of their partisan support.
But after just 10 minutes, they found themselves trailing.
Jesus released Sterling up the right flank and he played a low first-time cross into the danger zone, where Silva arrived to guide home in expert fashion.
Stoke nearly levelled soon after, but Badou Ndiaye's 20-yard effort was deflected agonisingly wide of the bottom-left corner following fine play out wide by Xherdan Shaqiri.
Although the visitors remained on top, they nearly shot themselves in the foot nine minutes before the break – Ederson tipping the ball on to the roof of his net after Kyle Walker cleared a long ball back towards his own goal.
Jack Butland had to be similarly alert a few minutes later, getting down to his left to push Fernandinho's long-range strike away.
Butland was helpless five minutes after the interval, though, as Silva found Jesus and the Brazilian played a looping return pass into the area for the Spaniard, who neatly tucked away despite the goalkeeper approaching.
Fernandinho went close to adding a third a few moments later, bursting through the middle, linking with Kevin De Bruyne and then shooting into the side-netting.
Paul Lambert introduced Peter Crouch from the bench in the 63rd minute and he made an immediate impact, heading down a free-kick to Martins Indi, who blasted over from about eight yards.
Sterling should have rounded things off 12 minutes from time when he pounced upon an error after a drop-ball incident and charged through on goal, but he tried to round Butland instead of squaring to Jesus and that allowed Ndiaye to make a last-ditch tackle.
Key Opta Facts:
- Manchester City have won 81 points from their 30 Premier League games this season – three more than they earned in the entirety of 2016-17.
- City have now scored 85 Premier League goals this season – only 11 teams have ever scored more in a completed Premier League campaign.
- David Silva has scored eight Premier League goals this season, his second highest tally in a single campaign in the competition (12 in 2014-15).
- Silva also bagged his second league brace of the campaign – he'd only scored three in his previous seven Premier League seasons combined.
- Only Jonas Lossl (50) has conceded more Premier League goals among goalkeepers than Jack Butland (49) this season.
- Gabriel Jesus has played 31 Premier League games without ever being on the losing side (W26 D5). It's the fourth longest run without defeat from a Premier League debut, after Jens Lehmann (47), Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba (37 each).
|Murray welcomes back winning nerves|
|Croatia coach Dalic ignoring Argentina´s complaints|
|Musa praised for ploughing on to showdown with Messi|
|Murray downs Wawrinka for first win in a year to set up Edmund clash|
|Messi will star for the good of Argentina - Sampaoli|
|Nainggolan greets Inter fans as Roma exit nears|
|Defiant Sampaoli hits back at ´criminal´ critics|
|Shaqiri, Xhaka fined but not banned over Switzerland goal celebrations|
|Bielsa did not need convincing to join Leeds|
|Pastore lands in Italy as Roma move edges closer|
|Zimbabwe quartet to miss tri-series amid pay dispute|
|Saudi Arabia 2 Egypt 1: Last-gasp Al Dawsari earns consolation win|
|Suarez and battle-hardened Uruguay expose Russia´s limitations|
|Uruguay 3 Russia 0: Suarez & Cavani strike as hosts miss out on top spot|
|Hareide says France criticism was taken out of context|
|Idowu wants to make it Messi´s World Cup farewell|
|Outgoing Nagelsmann still has Hoffenheim´s trust|
|Mexico v Sweden: Osorio´s rehabilitation relieves Ochoa|
|World Cup´s oldest player El Hadary saves penalty for Egypt|
|Umar Akmal faces anti-corruption unit after making spot-fixing claims|
|This will not be Pogba´s last World Cup - Deschamps|
|South Korea v Germany: Reus and Werner wary of pace and Son|
|Alderweireld aims to earn his Spurs against in-form Kane|
|Serbia v Brazil: Mitrovic ready to inflict World Cup agony on Brazil|
|Debuchy signs three-year Saint-Etienne deal|
|France won´t be extra motivated by Hareide barbs - Deschamps|
|Ryans descend on Russia - Socceroos keeper reveals 27 family members at World Cup|
|Alonso hopes French GP result was a one-off for McLaren|
|Messi ´not guilty of anything´, insists Maradona|
|Egypt keeper El Hadary makes history as World Cup´s oldest player|
|Guerrero to give Jedinak ´big hug´ for help battling ban|
|Eurovision and World Cup glory in the sights of eternal optimists Iceland|
|As long as we win, I don´t care who scores - Werner relishing World Cup experience|
|Wigan head coach to switch codes after being handed Scottish Rugby role|
|Switzerland v Costa Rica: Lang shrugs off Shaqiri controversy|
|Runners and Ryders: Watson jumps two places, Casey into automatic spot|
|Fekir offered contract extension, reveals Lyon president|
|Which F1 races has Lewis Hamilton not won?|
|Return to Sevilla would be a dream, says Layun|
|Paine: Don´t write off Australia´s World Cup defence|
|Gareca: My Peru future? I´ll give an answer soon|
|Bayern Munich´s Friedl to see out loan deal at Werder Bremen|
|Hooper out for at least a month, Folau set for hearing|
|Skoko backs former team-mate Dalic to take Croatia ´quite a way´ at World Cup|
|If Iceland go forward, we will go forward - Lada replaces longboat in Norse odyssey|
|Morata ´too expensive´ for Dortmund - Zorc|
|Hearn questions ´deluded´ Wilder´s desire for Joshua fight|
|Belgium game a ´perfect dress rehearsal´ for England, insists Carragher|
|World Cup permutations: How can Argentina qualify for last 16?|
|Bulldogs playmaker Foran out for season|
|RFU chairman offering no guarantees over Jones future|
|Algeria looking for new coach after parting ways with Madjer|
|Cahill still has something to offer Australia - Bosnich|
|Fear has discouraged Danes from travelling to Russia, says Sorensen|
|Reds rally to complete four-game sweep of Cubs|
|Arzani ready for Socceroos start against Peru – Skoko|
|Braves place closer Vizcaino on DL with right shoulder inflammation|
|West Indies hold slight edge against Sri Lanka|
|Don´t touch my Grizou – Pogba defends France team-mate|
|Yankees catcher Sanchez likely heading to DL|
|Messi is frustrated and hungry – Mascherano|
|Nainggolan the ´ninja´ Inter were missing, says Spalletti|
|Anthony fires back at Thunder fans unhappy he´s staying|
|MLS Review: New York City edge Toronto in Torrent´s first game|
|Watson shoots 63 to win Travelers for third victory of season|
|Iran contest not all about Ronaldo, insists Santos|
|Truex´s team use tricky strategy to win at Sonoma|
|World Cup 2018: England at home, Brazil´s party and exploding White Nights in St Petersburg|
|Pogba reveals ´issues´ with Mourinho|
|Mascherano plays down rumours of Sampaoli bust-up|