Vincent Kompany was back in Roberto Mancini's good books as he netted in Manchester City's 4-0 thumping of Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.
Mancini voiced his unhappiness after City captain Kompany returned from a two-month absence with a calf injury to play in Belgium's World Cup qualifier against Macedonia on Tuesday - his first action since turning out against Stoke City in the FA Cup in January.
Mancini claimed Kompany was under orders not to play in the match, but he seemed fit enough in scoring to help City claim a win that sees them again trail champions-elect Manchester United by 15 points after their city rivals won 1-0 at Sunderland earlier in the day.
City were all over a listless Newcastle side for most of this match with Carlos Tevez and David Silva finally breaking the visiting side's resistance moments before half-time.
Kompany and Yaya Toure gave the scoreline a truer reflection with a goal each in the second period.
Newcastle remain close to the relegation zone in 15th place after Wigan overcame Norwich City 1-0 to close to within three points of Alan Pardew's team. Aston Villa are third from bottom of the table on the same 30-point mark as Wigan, but have an inferior goal difference.
Despite being resigned to losing the Premier League title they won on the final day of last term, the City fans seemed happy enough with their lot, singing the name of manager Mancini.
For his part, Kompany departed to a standing ovation from the home supporters after being replaced by Javi Garcia on 73 minutes.
City dominated large swathes of possession, but had to wait until the 41st minute to make their ball retention count when Tevez arrived at the back post to convert Gael Clichy's cross.
Silva added the second goal from Samir Nasri's pass deep into added time in the first half when he drove the ball low and hard into the corner of the net.
The visiting side rallied briefly after the break with Yohan Cabaye walloping a volley a couple of yards wide of goal before City moved three clear when Kompany diverted Gareth Barry's drive into the net on 56 minutes.
Barry had been guilty of somehow scooping the ball over the bar from four yards out on 23 minutes after goalkeeper Rob Elliot had blocked an Edin Dzko attempt from close range.
But City had long forgotten about that by the time Toure completed the rout when he saw a shot from an acute angle deflect off the Newcastle substitute James Perch before beating Elliot at his near pos on 69 minutes.
Elliot was one of the reasons why Newcastle didn't lose by a heavier margin as he made fine stops from Clichy, Dzeko and home substitute Scott Sinclair that would have enhanced Newcastle misery.
Newcastle's best attempt of the first period saw Papiss Cisse clip the side of a post with a volley from Vurnon Anita's ball over the top, but they finished the afternoon a distant second.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Yaya Toure (Manchester City) - Strolled through this match with a typically commanding performance in the centre of the park.
Manchester City: Hart 7, Zabaleta 7, Kompany 8, Lescott 7, Clichy 7, Barry 7, Yaya Toure 8, Silva 8, Nasri 7, Tevez 7, Dzeko 7.subs: Garcia 6, Sinclair 7, Aguero 6
Newcastle: Elliot 8, Simpson 5, S Taylor 5, Yanga-Mbiwa 5, Gutierrez 5, Anita 5, Cabaye 4, Obertan 4, Sissoko 5, Gouffran 5, Cisse 6..subs - Perch 5, Bigirimana 5, Gosling 5
- Sports & Recreation
- Vincent Kompany
- Manchester City
- Stoke City
- Yaya Toure