LOND – Manchester City displayed ruthless efficiency on Sunday, raising questions over who can keep a second straight Premier League crown from Pep Guardiola’s team.
Raheem Sterling scored twice and goal-poacher Sergio Aguero was also on target as City marched back to the top of the standings with a 6-1 victory against Southampton at Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola’s players punished almost every mistake made by a beleaguered Southampton side in the opening stages, taking a 3-0 lead after just 18 minutes.
“I thought it was a great team performance,” Sterling said. “It is great times at the moment.”
City needed only five minutes to take the lead against Southampton, with Wesley Hoedt scoring an own goal following a neat move involving Aguero, David Silva and Leroy Sane.
Sterling then quickly set up the second as Aguero became the ninth player to reach the landmark of 150 Premier League goals.
It was a nightmare return for Southampton manager Mark Hughes, who was in charge at City between 2008-09, as his side conceded a third goal when Sterling supplied a cross and Silva lashed the ball home.
Southampton, without a win in six league games, replied in the 29th when Danny Ings was brought down in the box and picked himself up to stroke the penalty past goalkeeper Ederson.
But City restored its three-goal cushion on the stroke of halftime with Aguero taking advantage of a mistake by Cedric Soares and crossing for Sterling to get his fifth league goal of the season.
Sterling added his second of the game midway through the second half before Sane completed the rout in stoppage time.
“We played excellently without, and especially with, the ball,” Guardiola said. “We were aggressive in the final third, but we were lucky to score the goal in the last minute of the first half. The game was not over.”
In Sunday’s other game, second-place Chelsea breezed past Crystal Palace 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.