Second half goals from Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva earned Manchester City a 3-1 win over Everton as they extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to 10 points.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side did manage to lay a glove at least as Richarlison cancelled out Phil Foden’s opener, only the second time in the last nine league games City have failed to keep a clean sheet, but there was no denying them a 17th straight win in all competitions.
And, as they became the first English top-flight side to start a calendar year with 10 consecutive league wins a row, it is harder to see who might deny Pep Guardiola a third Premier League title.
This match should have been played in December, postponed at short notice a little over six weeks ago due to a coronavirus outbreak within the City camp, but they look in rude health now.
Though they travelled down the M62 without the in-form Ilkay Gundogan due to his groin injury, any sympathy for Guardiola lasted no longer than a glance at a substitutes bench including Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, and Fernandinho as City near full fitness.
But it was not the usual accomplished start, with some sloppy passing allowing Everton early glimpses of goal, while Aymeric Laporte – preferred over John Stones – almost fluffed a clearance in front of goal with Richarlison closing in.
Gradually City tightened up their game as play shifted towards the other end, where Silva went down under a challenge from Michael Keane but saw his penalty shouts fall on deaf ears.
Everton had another problem though as Yerry Mina was slow to get up and the Colombian was replaced by Seamus Coleman.
The reshuffled back four was soon under scrutiny. Mason Holgate got a vital touch to stop Rodri’s pass reaching the run of Joao Cancelo before Keane’s header prevented Mahrez’s cross from finding Gabriel Jesus at the far post.
And the pressure told with 32 minutes gone. Following a corner, Everton could only half-clear Mahrez’s cross and the ball fell for Foden whose shot took a deflection off Coleman to beat Jordan Pickford on the England goalkeeper’s return to the side.
City might have been expected to take complete control but instead they conceded six minutes later.
Coleman played an altogether different role in this one, picking out the run of Lucas Digne who fired onto the post, with the ball bouncing out to hit Richarlison on the thigh and go in.
It was only the second Premier League goal City had conceded in 45 days, and given the other was a Mohamed Salah penalty across Stanley Park, the first from open play.
The second half would be a different matter as City moved through the gears. Jesus, who had seven goals in his previous five against Everton, squandered a glorious chance when played in by Kyle Walker while Rodri headed Foden’s corner narrowly wide.
But the second goal came in the 63rd minute and in fine fashion.
Silva slipped the ball into the path of Mahrez as he cut in from the right, and with a sweep of his left boot the Algerian bent the ball in off the far post.
Ancelotti responded by sending on James Rodriguez and Josh King but there would be no second slip from City.
Instead they pushed further clear, with Silva putting his name on the scoresheet in the 77th minute as he linked up with Walker before lashing in a shot from the edge of the area.
Guardiola chose this as the moment to give De Bruyne his first action in almost a month, with this City juggernaut showing no signs of slowing just yet.