Joao Cancelo's stunning assist and a rocket from Rodri inspired Manchester City to a routine 3-0 victory over Everton and up to second place in the Premier League.
City broke 44 minutes of Everton resistance when Cancelo's out-of-this-world assist was half-volleyed home by Raheem Sterling - his first league goal since August on his 300th Premier League appearance.
Rodri doubled City's advantage with a thunderbolt 10 minutes into the second half before Bernardo Silva's late third put the seal on a Sunday afternoon stroll for Pep Guardiola's side, who moved to within three points of league leaders Chelsea.
For Everton, their campaign will not be judged on visits to the Etihad Stadium but their alarming slump of one Premier League win in eight, and no wins and two points from their last six, needs arresting to lift the mounting pressure on manager Rafa Benitez.
Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (6), Stones (7), Laporte (7), Cancelo (8), Rodri (8), Gundogan (6), Silva (7), Foden (6), Palmer (6), Sterling (7).
Subs: Ake (5), Mahrez (6), McAtee (n/a).
Everton: Pickford (5), Coleman (5), Godfrey (6), Keane (4), Digne (6), Allan (5), Delph (5), Gray (5), Gordon (5), Townsend (7), Richarlison (5).
Subs: Iwobi (6), Rondon (5), Onyango (n/a).
Man of the match: Rodri
Cancelo magic inspires Man City stroll
With Chelsea and Liverpool both claiming victories this weekend, it was imperative the champions kept their side of the bargain in the title race. They were utterly dominant for swathes of the first half but found Everton a tough nut to crack.
That early breakthrough eluded City in increasingly agonising circumstances. Cole Palmer, on his first Premier League start, failed to turn the ball home after a deflected Cancelo shot fell for him in the area before Phil Foden steered a header wide after brilliantly contorting his body to get on the end of Sterling's cross.
- Man City handed a first Premier League start to youngster Cole Palmer as the champions made three changes from the derby win at Man Utd. Aymeric Laporte and Raheem Sterling also returned, as Kevin De Bruyne (coronavirus), Ruben Dias and Gabriel Jesus made way.
- Everton were unchanged from their goalless draw with Tottenham before the international break.
Demarai Gray, Everton's brightest attacking prospect, was forced off injured after just 16 minutes, with Alex Iwobi coming on in his place, and Everton's attacking threat diminished significantly as City seized the invitation to turn up the pressure.
A flurry of chances leading up to the half-hour passed City by, as Sterling headed over from Foden's cross, Ilkay Gundogan clipped the top of the bar with a header of his own after Jordan Pickford had smothered Bernardo Silva's chipped shot before Palmer's shot on the swivel drew a save at full stretch from the Everton stopper.
City were awarded a penalty soon after when Sterling went to ground under the challenge of Michael Keane, but referee Stuart Atwell overturned his decision after being instructed to consult the pitchside monitor by the VAR.
But City didn't have to wait much longer for the breakthrough, and when it came, it was worth the wait. Cancelo's sumptuous pass with the outside of his right boot unpicked the Everton defence and was dispatched with aplomb by Sterling, whose half-volley flashed past a helpless Pickford.
After Keane escape punishment again for another challenge in the area on Bernardo Silva, City needed just 10 second-half minutes to double their lead and effectively put the game out of reach as Rodri's 25-yard thunderbolt swung away from the diving Pickford and into the top corner of the Everton net.
With an eye on Wednesday's crunch Champions League clash with PSG, Foden was withdrawn and his replacement, Riyad Mahrez, almost produced an instant impact but dragged a shot wide of the near post.
With nothing to lose, Everton threw caution to the wind as the game progressed and enjoyed fleeting forays into the final third but never possessed the attacking quality to concern champions.
After Sterling should have added a third only to see his attempt from Palmer's square pass was smothered by Pickford, it was left for Bernardo Silva to put the game to bed four minutes from time when he turned home Palmer's blocked shot.
City slickers - Match stats
- This was the 58th occasion of Manchester City winning by 3+ goals in the Premier League under Pep Guardiola; at least 10 more times than any other team during his time in charge (Liverpool, 48).
- Everton have now lost each of their last eight Premier League games against Manchester City - only against Manchester United between December 1999 and February 2004 (9) have they lost more consecutive games against an opponent in the competition.
- Manchester City have conceded just six goals from their 12 games in the Premier League this season; their second-fewest at this stage of a league campaign, after 2018-19 (5), when they went on to win their second Premier League title under Pep Guardiola.
- Everton haven't won any of their last six Premier League games (D2 L4); their longest winless run in the competition since January 2018 under Sam Allardyce (6). Only Newcastle (12) and Brighton (7) are currently on a longer winless run in the Premier League this season than Everton (6).
- Four of Rodri's eight goals for Manchester City in all competitions have been scored from outside the box. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, only Kevin De Bruyne (9) and Riyad Mahrez (8) have netted more for the club from outside the box than Rodri (4).
What the managers said…
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: "We had rhythm in our game, they defended really well, so deep, on the counter-attack. In general we controlled the game. We played the game we should play to beat teams like Everton.
"It [Rodri's goal] was great, the strike was amazing. Great goal. When one team comes just to defend it is always going to be difficult and you have to be careful. Everything is going to be well in the right moment. The quality of the players we have made the difference."
"I know him [Raheem Sterling] quite well. Since I arrived, he has been a key player for us. He has to perform like he performed today, and I am happy for him. He did a great job.
"He [Cole Palmer] played almost 90 minutes. He has more experience. He is a huge talented player. It was difficult with not much spaces there, but he played a good game, and he will improve in the future as he is so young."
Everton manager Rafa Benitez: "I don't like to lose against anyone, it doesn't matter about the name of the team. You have to be a threat on the counter-attack in these kind of games, we had our chances without creating too much, and it was a matter of time after defending before you make a mistake.
"We tried, we had two or three situations in the first half where we didn't do well, and normally you lose these games. Clearly, he [Demarai Gray] is one of our most dangerous players on the counter attack, without him we were missing something, but with the players we had up front we had to create something more.
"The goal at the end of the first half changed things, you don't want to concede, but when you concede you don't want it to be at the end of the first half. Then you have to take more risks and then you are more exposed, and they have more chances on the counter."
Man of the Match - Rodri
Sky Sports' Gary Neville:
"Even before his goal, he was the best player on the pitch in the first half. He was breaking everything up and keeping Everton pinned back and then his goal in the second half was just absolutely world-class. What a strike."
Live Renault Super Sunday
Manchester City host PSG in the Champions League group stages on Wednesday at 8pm, before welcoming West Ham to the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday at 2pm. Everton travel to Brentford on Super Sunday at 2pm - live on Sky Sports Premier League.