Goals from Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan secured a 3-0 win for Manchester City against Aston Villa.
David Silva, making a club-record 267th Premier League start, dragged his shot wide with the best chance of a frustrating first half for the champions.
City’s play was disjointed, but as the half progressed the Etihad side began creating chances.
Sterling, the man of the moment, weaved his way past two challenges before having his effort blocked, and Joao Cancelo, always willing to get forward and supplement attacks, had his shot from distance saved.
But Villa, impressive this season after their promotion in May, weren’t going to lie down and die – and moments later, they were almost ahead when John Stones’ loose pass was pounced upon by John McGinn.
His curling effort was saved by Ederson low to his right and former City midfielder Douglas Luiz almost got to the rebound but the ball was nicked away at the last by Cancelo.
City looked somewhat off the pace, but a moment of real quality almost opened up Villa. A slick passing move involving Gundogan and the electric Sterling ended with David Silva’s first-time effort going inches past the post. It would have been some goal.
The deadlock was broken seconds after the restart. A superb, pinpoint long ball from Ederson was deftly flicked on by Jesus, who was stronger than Tyrone Mings, and Sterling raced clear to finish expertly.
It was his 13th goal in 14 games this season, a remarkable return from one of the world’s best players.
Jesus was an inche away from nodding home Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick, and the striker had an effort cleared off the line by the thigh of Mings. It wasn’t going his way in front of goal.
But City’s lead was doubled when Silva got the slightest of touches to De Bruyne’s delivery to send the ball past Tom Heaton, before Gundogan’s scissor-kick finish after some pinball in the area made it 3-0.
City played out the final few minutes with 10 men after Fernandinho received a second yellow card and there was still time for further drama when Jesus’ effort clipped the bar and McGinn hit the post for Villa with seconds remaining.
Man City’s third consecutive victory moves them three points behind Liverpool ahead of the leaders’ Sunday match against Tottenham Hotspur.
Villa’s first loss in three drops them to 13th place with 11 points, half of City’s total.
Photo Credit: premierleague.com