Manager Pep Guardiola hailed Manchester City’s thumping win over Stoke as the team’s finest display since he became manager as his side opened up a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne was sensational, providing two assists and one of the passes of the season that led to the second goal as Guardiola’s men returned from the international break to treat the home support to a stunning performance.
“I am happy for the victory, we had to focus after the international break, to start well,” said the Spaniard, who joined the Citizens at the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
“We didn’t lose easy balls, we play fast and simple. That’s why I am very pleased. It is the best performance since I came here.”
Stoke boss Mark Hughes added: “They were quicker, stronger and anticipated things far quicker than us, and in the end we had no answers to the questions they posed to us.”
City scored three times in the first period and had 83.5% of the possession in what was arguably the most one-sided Premier League half this season.
Gabriel Jesus was the first to find the net when he nipped in ahead of Mame Biram Diouf to prod home. De Bruyne then threaded a ‘no-look’ pass into the path of Leroy Sane, who fed Raheem Sterling to slot in.
It was 3-0 by the 27th minute when Spain midfielder David Silva fired home after more good work from Sterling and Sane.
The only surprise of the first 45 minutes was when Diouf’s deflected shot reduced the deficit.