A brace from David Silva led Manchester City to a comfortable 2-0 win over Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium on Monday night, as the Citizens edge closer to the Premier League crown.
In a game dominated by the hosts, Stoke were cut apart on numerous occasions, as goals from the Spaniard early in both halves were enough to see Pep Guardiola's men go 16 points clear at the top of the table.
City took just ten minutes to draw first blood in the opening period. After clever work from Gabriel Jesus, the Brazilian turned into a space and fed Raheem Sterling on the right wing.
The returning England man then looked up and spraying a low driven pass across the area to find the on-rushing David Silva, who shrugged off the attention of both Kurt Zouma and Bruno Martins Indi to steal in and slot home to give City the lead.
As the the men in black settled into their familiar pattern of probing for openings, an error from Oleksandr Zinchenko then however allowed alert Xherdan Shaqiri to wriggle into the penalty area at the opposite end.
As the Swiss found the waiting Badou Ndiaye, the Stoke midfielder pulled the trigger and as his shot deflected off the leg of Vincent Kompany the ball then spun inches wide of Ederson's far post.
Stoke again came close to a leveler after a long ball from Jack Butland bounced awkwardly for full-back Kyle Wallker, and on attempting to flop the ball back to his keeper, lofted the ball over Ederson, forcing the Brazilian to back-pedal and tip over his own crossbar.
For the Potters, Jese Rodriguez was foraging a lonely path up front with the Spaniard feeding on scraps as the visitors continued to dominate the ball, as Silva and Kevin De Bruyne pulled the strings effortlessly in the middle of the park for the Citizens.
Minutes before the interval, City upped the tempo with two openings to double their advantage as Fernandinho forced Butland into a smart low save followed moments later by De Bruyne's delivery into the area finding Leroy Sane, only for the German to slash wide of the far stick on the volley.
On resumption, the visitors took just five minutes to double their lead. Jesus was found in acres of space and as Butland raced out to retrieve the ball, and lofted the ball toward the unmarked Silva - who much like in the first-half coolly side-footed home on the half-volley for his and City's second of the night.
The game then quickly became a shooting gallery for the champions elect, as Fernandinho, Sterling and Sane all went close to adding a third, with the latter coming close with a trademark curling left-footed effort flying narrowly wide of the Stoke goal.
Despite their comprehensive dominance, Stoke should then having pulled one back with Bruno Martins Indi volleying from six yards over after a clever nod down in the City box from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Again Guardiola's men bided their time to pounce with Sterling and Sane both having further chances - with Kyle Walker shying high and wide from a tight angle - before Silva then plumped to seal his hat-trick with the ball sailing wide.
The hosts pushed to snatch a goal back and stage an unlikely late comeback, but the final minutes became a training exercise for City as the league leaders cruised home in the Potteries, now potentially just two wins from once again lifting the Premier League trophy.
One change for the Potters against @ManCity this evening as @JeseRodriguez10 replaces @MameDiouf99.— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) March 12, 2018
STARTING XI: Butland; Bauer, Zouma, M. Indi, Stafylidis; Badou, Cameron, Allen; Shaqiri, Jese, Choupo-Moting.#SCFC ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/E7ngnPmI9t
How we line-up tonight!— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 12, 2018
City XI | Ederson, Walker, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Sane, Jesus
Subs | Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Gundogan, Laporte, Bernardo, Yaya Toure
Presented by @HAYSWorldwide #scfcvcity #mancity pic.twitter.com/niKExUKO9R