Yaya Toure scored his first hat-trick for City as the Blues rediscovered their goal-scoring form with a 5-0 win over Fulham.
Two of Yaya’s goals were from the penalty spot with the second resulting in a red card for Fernando Amorebieta but the Ivorian’s third, a 25-yard screamer, was easily the pick of the bunch.
Chelsea’s 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal re-applied the pressure on City to ensure there were no slip-ups against the Premier League’s basement club.
New Fulham boss Felix Magath claimed before the game that his team’s defence had never been tighter, so a trip to the division’s top home scorers was the acid test of such a bold statement - and one he may want revisit after the events that followed.
Indeed, Kieran Richardson came within a whisker of opening the scoring after 22 minutes with a low drive that almost crept in from 20 yards – a few minutes later, however, City were handed the chance to break the deadlock.
Milner’s long ball forward to Negredo saw the Spaniard get behind Amorebieta in the box but the Fulham defender’s challenge felled the City man and the referee’s assistant correctly flagged for a penalty that Yaya Toure casually stroked home for his 18th of the campaign.
It was perfect timing for the Blues who had scored just two goals in the previous three home games and were becoming increasingly frustrated the longer the visitors dug in. But there was never any real danger that the drought would continue.
City almost doubled their lead a minute before the break when Milner’s hard work played in Kolarov who hammered a shot that cannoned back off the crossbar with David Stockdale well beaten.
While the Cottagers might have gone in for their half-time refreshments relatively happy, the game was effectively over as a contest within ten minutes of the re-start as the luckless Amorebieta hauled down David Silva in the box, was shown a straight red card and Yaya tucked home his second of the afternoon with consummate ease to double the Blues’ lead.
It was the Ivorian’s 50th City goal in his 175th appearance for the Club – not bad for a holding midfielder!
But there was even better to come from Yaya as he yet again showed what a master he is from long-range, curling home a sublime 25-yarder ten minutes later to complete his first City (and career) hat-trick and a memorable afternoon for the Blues’ star who has now netted 20 goals this term.
With Fulham's resistance over, City, eager to restore a healthy goal difference advantage over leaders Chelsea, then made it 4-0 with a Fernandinho thunderbolt on 83 minutes and two minutes from time Demichelis bagged his first goal for the club to complete the rout.
There was still time for Demichelis to have another effort cleared off the line and Negredo to miss a chance to score the goal his performance deserved - but nobody was complaining.
All in all, a good day’s work ahead of such a vital week in the title race.