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).
|Neymar targets improvement against Costa Rica|
|Confident Spieth ready to relish ´Car-nasty´ Open|
|All Blacks ring the changes for series finale with France|
|Sampaoli yet to decide on Argentina XI to face Croatia|
|Bale needs Real Madrid assurances, says agent|
|What game were you watching? - Costa bites back at journalist|
|Catalans capitalise on Leeds collapse to secure victory|
|Ronaldo facial hair inspired by Quaresma joke|
|This is not football - Carvajal criticises Iran tactics|
|Costa strike keeps 2018 World Cup waiting for first goalless draw|
|FIFA fines Mexico over discriminatory chants|
|Suarez announces wife´s pregnancy after World Cup heroics|
|Fortune favours Spain´s ´Supermen´ as luck proves to be Iran´s kryptonite|
|Hubert Green, U.S. Open winner who ignored death threat, dies at 71|
|Osaka injured in Birmingham, Kerber crashes out in Mallorca|
|Iran 0 Spain 1: Costa goal breaks stubborn resistance|
|Cilic battles back but Wawrinka bows out at Queen´s|
|Messi the greatest but Croatia will play to beat Argentina, says Dalic|
|Thiem stunned by Sugita in Halle|
|Salah rejects talk of rift in Egypt camp|
|England Women follow up men´s ODI record with T20I high|
|Southgate laughs off dislocated shoulder: Better me than one of the players!|
|World Cup hosts Russia qualify as Egypt make early exit|
|Pique wins 100th Spain cap in Iran World Cup clash|
|Serbia v Switzerland: Kolarov not interested in playing for a draw|
|Rakitic wary of ´uber-motivated´ Messi|
|Not my finest moment - Mickelson issues apology after U.S. Open controversy|
|´Best in the world´ Messi the victim of unfair treatment, says Sampaoli|
|Suarez off the mark but resurgent Russia will not fear stuttering Uruguay|
|Uruguay 1 Saudi Arabia 0: Centurion Suarez strikes to send La Celeste, Russia through|
|Peru boss Gareca not a fan of ´novelty´ VAR|
|Nigeria v Iceland: Hallgrimsson anticipates another intense battle|
|Griezmann to face Peru despite ankle issue and struggles – Deschamps|
|Leicester sign Norwich´s Maddison|
|Leinster face Wasps, Bath, Toulouse in Champions Cup draw|
|2019 Ashes to start World Test Championship|
|Wizards to face Knicks in London next season|
|Vettel eyeing Paul Ricard profits - French GP in numbers|
|Malaga turn to Muniz once again|
|Amrabat: VAR doesn´t work if you do not use it|
|Suarez earns 100th Uruguay cap|
|You´ve got to look beyond football - Denmark chip in to fly new father Knudsen home|
|Neymar returns to Brazil training after injury scare|
|No passports required - Burnley´s 51-year wait for European tie sees Clarets draw... Aberdeen|
|Huddersfield bring in Bacuna to boost midfield|
|Forget the GOAT and the goatee - just enjoy Ronaldo and Messi|
|Ronaldo bearing down on Daei after going past Puskas - The top five goalscorers in international foo|
|Portugal 1 Morocco 0: Record-breaker Ronaldo sends Renard´s men out|
|Halep pulls out of Eastbourne International|
|Brazil v Costa Rica: Coutinho ready for more Selecao toil|
|Muller and Bierhoff dismiss reports of German disharmony|
|Mooy can play at a higher level, says Socceroos boss Van Marwijk|
|Remarkable Ronaldo breaks Puskas´ European record|
|Belgian Grand Prix deal agreed until 2021|
|Isco: I´m not going to speak to Ronaldo again!|
|Slater expects to be fit for Origin II|
|Curran and Overton added to England ODI squad|
|Hussey fears Australia will be left with ´mental scars´|
|Fabianski swaps Swansea for West Ham|
|Loftus-Cheek ready to replace Alli|
|England are a team now - Rashford|
|Lazaridis calls for Cahill to start against Denmark|
|Arzani and Ryan can play at the highest level, says Bosnich|
|Dust (Ja)pan and brush: Blue Samurai fans clean up in Saransk|
|Lodge reaches agreement over New York attack|
|Gerrard can become a strong manager - Arena|
|Arsenal target Torreira has left for €30m, says Sampdoria chief|
|Murray unsure over Wimbledon participation|
|De Gea has to bounce back from Ronaldo shocker - Bosnich|
|Martinez not looking for perfection|