Sergio Aguero's masterclass helped Manchester City to a 4-1 Premier League victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The striker took his goal tally to 19 in all competitions for the campaign as Manuel Pellegrini's side claimed the points on Wednesday to remain second in the table.
It looked like City may be in for a tricky evening against a team they have not beaten in their last four league meetings when Connor Wickham fortuitously put Sunderland ahead.
But Aguero had other ideas and, having rocketed home a brilliant solo goal, turned provider for Stevan Jovetic to make it 2-1 six minutes before half-time.
Suddenly struggling to repeat the defending that earned a goalless draw against Chelsea on Saturday, Gus Poyet's men were pegged back further as Pablo Zabaleta added a third goal not long after the interval.
And Aguero was back on centre stage in the 71st minute, converting coolly to wrap up a comfortable night's work for City.
The visiting side went into the game under a cloud of defensive issues with skipper Vincent company injured and Eliaquim Mangala suspended after his dismissal in Sunday's 3-0 win over Southampton.
Sensing a chance to attack the unfamiliar centre-back pairing of Martin Demichelis and Dedryck Boyata, Sunderland began the game impressively and should have taken the lead after just seven minutes.
Jack Rodwell was the guilty party when, having been picked out by Will Buckley, he struck his effort straight into former City team-mate Zabaleta with the goal gaping.
But the miss did not prove too costly as Wickham's goal, which had more than a hint of good fortune about it, put the home side ahead.
The forward played a superb one-two with Sebastian Larsson, before Zabaleta's sliding tackle ricocheted off his foot and into the corner.
City found an immediate riposte through the brilliance of Aguero, though.
The Argentinian picked the ball up 20 yards from goal, nutmegged Sebastian Coates and powered an unstoppable shot beyond former City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.
He was not done there, however, and produced another world-class intervention in the 39th minute, brilliantly flicking Yaya Toure's fizzing pass sideways to Jovetic - who powered a strike through the legs of Pantilimon.
The hosts emerged from the break with confidence, epitomised by Larsson immediately stinging the hands of Joe Hart.
Yet City snuffed out their hopes of a comeback with a beautifully worked goal.
Toure sent the ball forward to Zabaleta, who played a lovely one-two with Samir Nasri and chipped over Pantilimon in a manner that would have made his countryman Aguero proud.
Further gloss was added to the scoreline, Aguero making a superb run and expertly turning James Milner's cross in off the inside of the post.comments