Vincent Kompany scored his first Premier League goal since August 2015 to help send Manchester City third with a 3-0 win at Southampton.
Both sides struggled to create much in a disappointing first half in which neither goalkeeper was tested, though Leroy Sane will have been aggrieved not to have earned a penalty.
But City found their stride after the break and it was Kompany, restored to the starting XI having been left out for the 3-1 victory over Hull City, who broke the deadlock.
READ MORE: How Southampton v Manchester City unfolded
The Belgian’s header, which should have been saved by Fraser Forster, ended a 20-month drought – though the injury-plagued defender has only played 17 top-flight games in that time.
Sane finished a rapid City counter-attack to effectively put the game to bed 13 minutes from time, before Sergio Aguero added gloss to the scoreline with a close-range header.
Pep Guardiola’s men leapfrog Liverpool into third and are seven points ahead of Everton and Manchester United, although their city neighbours have two games in hand.
City started brightly and Aguero appeared in the goalscoring mood as he had a series of sighters in the opening minutes.
Dusan Tadic should have done better at the other end in the 15th minute when he blazed over from the edge of the box at the end of a well-worked move involving Nathan Redmond and Manolo Gabbiadini.
James Ward-Prowse headed well off target from Steven Davis’ cross before David Silva only managed to turn a deflected Aguero delivery into the side-netting.
The main talking point of a low-key first half came when Sane was upended in the area by Forster after latching onto Yaya Toure’s throughball, but referee Neil Swarbrick did not award a penalty, with replays indicating the goalkeeper may first have got a slight touch on the ball.
Toure headed over from the subsequent corner, but neither side was able to register a shot on target before the interval.
Ward-Prowse curled the past the left-hand post from a free-kick, but the hosts fell behind as Southampton saw the best and the worst of Forster.
First he showcased his reflexes to tip Jesus Navas’ long-range drive over, but from the corner that followed Kompany gave City the lead with a header into the ground that the Southampton keeper failed to save despite the effort being straight at him.
The England international somewhat redeemed himself as he beat Aguero to a low delivery from Kevin de Bruyne – taking a knee to the head in the process – with Silva seeing his follow up blocked.
Claudio Bravo’s save from a Tadic header marked the first on-target effort in eight that he has not allowed in, drawing loud cheers from the travelling support, who were given further reason to celebrate by Sane and Aguero.
De Bruyne squared for Sane to slot in City’s second at the end of an excellent break and the Belgium playmaker was the provider for Aguero.
Aguero rose between two Saints defenders to nod in a looping far-post cross from De Bruyne, the Argentine making it 11 goals in his last 11 games and five in as many Premier League appearances.
tes, to make it 1-0 with his first goal since August 2015.
And with 12 minute remaining, Leroy Sane was on hand to finish a sweeping team move to make it 2-0.
Less than two minutes later, Sergio Aguero headed into an empty net after the home defence was ripped apart as the team pushed forward.
Key Opta stats
- Man City have won more away games this season than they have in any other top flight campaign (11).
- Southampton directed only one shot on target in the game; only once this season have they failed to register an attempt on target in the Premier League (v Liverpool in November).
- Manchester City have made 100 changes to their Premier League starting line-ups this season, 15 more than any other side.
- This game was the sixth Premier League fixture this season to see no shots on target in the first half.
- Vincent Kompany scored in the Premier League for the first time since August 2015 (v Chelsea) after a run of 16 top-flight games without a goal.
- Since his debut in August 2010, David Silva has provided 64 Premier League assists; 13 more than any other player (Wayne Rooney next on 51).
- Kevin De Bruyne has registered 13 Premier League assists this season, more than any other player.
- Leroy Sané has scored in three of his last four Premier League away games (three goals), failing to do so only at Stamford Bridge in this run.
- Sergio Aguero has scored in each of his last 12 Premier League appearances in the month of April.