Sergio Aguero grabbed a hat-trick as Manchester City scored four times inside 25 minutes to thrash Chelsea 6-0 and leapfrog Liverpool again to top spot in the Premier League on goal difference on Sunday.
Aguero should have had even more than three as the Argentine missed a glorious early chance and hit the bar in the second-half in a humiliating afternoon for Maurizio Sarri’s men.
Raheem Sterling started and ended the scoring and Ilkay Gundogan also netted in the first quarter of the game as City ended what could have been a testing week with a trip to Everton in between the visits of Arsenal and Chelsea with maximum points.
Jurgen Klopp’s men maintain the advantage of a game in hand, but handed a reprieve by Liverpool’s draws against Leicester and West Ham in recent weeks, City look determined to become the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League.
Chelsea on the other hand slip to sixth with the scale of the defeat sure to raise further doubts over Sarri’s future.
A 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth in their last away game was Chelsea’s heaviest league defeat since 1996.
And this was their worst loss in any competition since 1991 after failing to recover from Sterling’s fourth-minute opener.
Eden Hazard went to sleep from Kevin de Bruyne’s quickly taken free-kick and Bernardo Silva had acres of space to cross for the England international to fire home.
Pep Guardiola had described this match as a “final” for his side given that Chelsea had a week to prepare, while City ground out a 2-0 win at Everton on Wednesday.
Guardiola fell to the floor in exasperation when Aguero somehow side-footed wide with his easiest chance of the game moments later.
But the Catalan coach need not have worried that would prove a costly miss as Aguero made amends in stunning fashion by blasting into the top corner from 25 yards to double City’s after just 13 minutes.
Aguero had a simple task to make it 3-0 six minutes later when he pounced on Ross Barkley’s slack header towards his own goal.
And Gundogan’s shot from the edge of the area then had too much power for the world’s most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to compound Chelsea’s woes.
Such was the defensive collapse at the other end, Gonzalo Higuain had little chance to shine but the Argentine striker was unfortunate not to score his third goal in as many league starts for Chelsea when Ederson turned over his dipping volley five minutes before the break.
That was as much of a response as Chelsea mustered, though, and it only got worse for Sarri’s chances of keeping his job in the second period.
Aguero missed his first chance to seal a second hat-trick in two games when he headed against the crossbar.
But when Sterling was too quick for Cesar Azpilicueta and chopped down by the Spaniard inside the area, Aguero coolly slotted home from the penalty spot to move level with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah as the Premier League’s top scorer on 17 for the season.
Even after Aguero went off to a standing ovation, City’s strength in depth shone through as Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and David Silva came off the bench.
And Silva’s pass opened the visitors up again for the sixth as he picked out Oleksandr Zinchenko who crossed for Sterling to tap home.