Raheem Sterling hailed another important step after Manchester City maintained their grip on the title race with a 2-0 victory over Brentford.
England forward Sterling had a hand in both goals as the leaders wore down the spirited Bees at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday to claim an ultimately comfortable win.
The champions had to be patient in the first half as the visitors sat deep but eventually broke through with a 40th-minute Riyad Mahrez penalty after Sterling was brought down.
Brentford briefly rallied but City always retained the upper hand and killed the game off after David Raya gifted the ball to Sterling. Raya recovered to save Sterling’s initial shot but Kevin De Bruyne turned in the rebound.
“All we can do is keep playing, keep trying to win game by game, and that’s another step in the right direction,” said Sterling.
“This was a difficult one against a tough team to break down but we got the three points we needed in the end.
“The game at their place was difficult and they came here and did the exact same thing, but we just needed to keep playing and the chances would come.”
City’s victory gave them a 12-point lead over second-placed Liverpool ahead of the Reds’ clash with Leicester on Thursday.
Pep Guardiola’s side are clear favourites to win a fourth title in five seasons while their Champions League quest resumes with a trip to Sporting Lisbon next week.
The City manager is not looking too far ahead yet but is pleased with the way they are playing.
“I’m happy but at the same time we are just in February,” Guardiola said. “We have to continue.
“Now in three days (we play) again, and three days again, but with this spirit and commitment to what we have to do we can think we are going to arrive at the end of the season, hopefully, fighting for the titles.”
Brentford have now lost six games in succession, five of them in the Premier League, stalling what had been a bright start to their first top-flight campaign for 74 years.
Yet manager Thomas Frank was pleased with many aspects of the display and remains optimistic.
The Dane said: “We all hate losing and we are irritated we didn’t avoid the two goals – which were so avoidable and that is frustrating – but with performances like this, if we can keep repeating that, I am convinced we are fine.
“And finally we are close to getting all our players available and fit, and that is a big thing for all teams. We only had that for the first eight games of the season.
“There are quite a few positive things around us.”
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