Manchester City extended their winning run to 21 games in all competitions to move further clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-1 victory over a stubborn Wolves at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola's side dominated from the first whistle and they took the lead in the 15th minute through Leander Dendoncker's own goal and they thought they had a second just before the break, but Aymeric Laporte's strike was ruled out for offside in what was an extremely tight call.
Wolves were barely seen as an attacking force, but they managed to grab an equaliser with what was their first touch in the City penalty area, Conor Coady heading home in the 61st minute.
City immediately upped the tempo but found Rui Patricio in excellent form, before strikes from Gabriel Jesus (80, 90+3) and Riyad Mahrez (90) secured all three points as the hosts breathed a small sigh of relief.
Victory sees City, who are unbeaten in 28 games, move 15 points clear of Manchester United - who face Crystal Palace on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports - ahead of the Manchester derby on Sunday, which is also live on Sky Sports. Meanwhile, Wolves, whose four-game unbeaten run in the league ends, stay 12th.
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How City were given a small scare by Wolves...
Manchester City quickly took control of the game and they created an early opening as Joao Cancelo spotted Raheem Sterling's run in behind the Wolves defence. The full-back picked him out brilliantly, but Rui Patricio was quickly off his line to block Sterling's shot from a tight angle.
After an incredible start from the hosts, it came as no surprise when they opened the scoring with 15 minutes gone.
Manchester City: Ederson (6), Walker (7), Dias (6), Laporte (7), Cancelo (8), Rodri (7), Bernardo (7), Mahrez (8), De Bruyne (8), Jesus (8), Sterling (8).
Subs: Gündogan (n/a).
Wolves: Patricio (8), Dendoncker (5), Coady (6), Saiss (6), Hoever (5), Semedo (6), Neves (5), Moutinho (6), Jonny (5), Neto (5), Traore (6).
Subs: Silva (6), Otasowie (n/a).
Man of the match: Riyad Mahrez.
Mahrez latched onto a long ball before playing an inviting cross across the face of goal. Sterling was waiting for a tap in but Dendoncker could do nothing but turn the ball into his own net.
Wolves could not land any sort of blow on City, who thought they had doubled their lead just before half-time with a strike from Laporte, but the goal was ruled out for offside against the defender. The Frenchman had been onside when Mahrez delivered the initial cross, but he was ruled to have moved into an offside position by the time Bernardo Silva flicked it on. A VAR check showed it was a tight call but ruled the original decision to have been correct.
Silva then had a chance to extend the lead himself, but Rui Patricio saved his header to keep the score at 1-0 heading into the interval.
Wolves didn't create a single goalscoring chance in the first half - they didn't have a single touch in the City penalty area, and the second half started in a similar fashion to the first with the hosts dominating as Kevin De Bruyne and Mahrez forcing excellent saves from Rui Patricio.
And they proved to be crucial stops as Wolves snatched a surprise equaliser completely against the run of play just after the hour mark.
Joao Moutinho clipped a free-kick into the box and Coady dived to steer a header just inside the post with Wolves' first shot on goal and their first touch in the City penalty area.
- Sergio Aguero returned to the bench as leaders Manchester City, chasing a 21st consecutive victory in all competitions, made six changes for the visit of Wolves in the Premier League. Gabriel Jesus replaced the Argentinian, who has been hampered by injury and illness this season, in the side at the Etihad Stadium. Aymeric Laporte came in to partner Ruben Dias in place of John Stones while Raheem Sterling, Rodri, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo also started. Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ferran Torres made way.
- Wolves, unbeaten in five league games, made one change with Ki-Jana Hoever replacing Willian Jose.
It was Coady's first ever shot on target in the Premier League and it stunned City into life. They immediately upped the tempo and finally their dominance told as they reclaimed the lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Wolves failed to deal with Kyle Walker's cross and Jesus, who was in the right place at the right time, pounced to smash home from close range.
City put the result beyond doubt as Mahrez steered home their third in the 90th minute before putting some gloss on the result, scoring a fourth, which was awarded after a VAR check for offside, with the final kick of the game as Guardiola's men stretched their winning run in the Premier League to 15, and their unbeaten run to 19.
Analysis: This is a great City side
Sky Sports' Adam Bate:
"Manchester City won this game twice. In the first half, their dominance of Wolves was so total that the away team barely registered a touch of the ball in the final third of the pitch let alone the opposition penalty area. And when a set play allowed Wolves back into the match, City cut through them to show how they can devastate teams late on too.
"Riyad Mahrez was magnificent all evening, tormenting Jonny Otto and then Ki-Jana Hoever. Is there a silkier first touch in football than that of the Algerian? His ability to bring that ball down from the sky in his stride was enough to find space in behind the Wolves defence for the opening goal. He ended any hopes of a comeback by scoring the third himself.
"Gabriel Jesus scored the other two - a reward for his unselfish work leading the line for Pep Guardiola. Elsewhere, Joao Cancelo was excellent again, this time at left-back, while Bernardo Silva's role in raising the tempo of the team's play in the opposition half cannot be underestimated. The in-form Ilkay Gundogan was only required for eight minutes.
"Twenty-one consecutive wins tells the tale. Those autumn doubts about the method and the mood are long forgotten. Confidence is oozing from the team and the depth is so good that any number of changes to the starting line-up do not appear to affect the fluidity of the football. It has crept up on many during a miserable winter, but this is a great City side."
What the managers said…
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: "We were fantastic. After 1-1 we suffered but we created lots of chances in the end."
On winning 21 games in a row: "Manchester United. That's all we care [about now]. The champions are Liverpool, the crown belongs to them. We are in the best position right now to take them out and we are going to try, but they are the champions.
"There are 33 points to play [for]. Tomorrow our opponents will play, we have one or two days off and prepare for Manchester United at home."
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo: "First half we were organised but no fight, there was a lot of possession from City. Second half we had more pressing, were higher up the pitch and creating threats in our possession - which we sustained for a spell of the game. The boys were solid and compact.
"The game went by, but we were not able to sustain this and we got punished. We felt that we were on the front foot in the second half but after we draw the reaction was not to sustain but we faced a very good opponent.
Man of the match - Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez was magnificent all evening, tormenting Jonny Otto and then Ki-Jana Hoever.
Is there a silkier first touch in football than that of the Algerian? His ability to bring that ball down from the sky in his stride was enough to find space in behind the Wolves defence for the opening goal.
He ended any hopes of a comeback by scoring the third himself.
Opta stats - Man City's dominance continues
- Manchester City have won their last 21 games in all competitions, scoring 55 goals and conceding just eight in this run. In fact, City are one of just three teams from the big-five European leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain) to record more than 20 consecutive victories, after Bayern Munich (23 in 2020) and Real Madrid (22 in 2014).
- Man City have made more changes to their starting XI than any other any side in the Premier League this season (79).
- Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 46 goals in 53 starts in all competitions for Man City at the Etihad (39 goals, 7 assists).
- Conor Coady scored his first ever Premier League goal on what was his 103rd appearance - it was also the first shot on target in his PL career.
- Only Coady (3) has scored more own-goals for Wolves in the Premier League than Leander Dendoncker (2).
Live Renault Super Sunday
Live Premier League
Up next for Manchester City is the Manchester derby. League leaders City host second-placed Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 4.30pm.
Meanwhile, Wolves visit Aston Villa on Saturday, also live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off is at 5.30pm.