City dominated lowly Fulham to stretch their lead atop the Premier League to 17 points.
Meanwhile Chelsea gave the chasing pack in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League hope with a 0-0 draw at Leeds on Saturday, before Everton missed the chance to close the gap on the top four when they were stunned by Burnley.
And Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player not to take a knee prior to kick-off of a 1-0 win over West Brom.
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CITY’S DEPTH SHINES THROUGH
All three goals came in the first 15 minutes of the second-half as John Stones, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero struck to take City ever closer to a third league title in four years.
Guardiola’s men are still on course for a historic quadruple of trophies this season. Ahead of their return to Champions League action on Tuesday, the Catalan coach made seven changes with Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez among those left on the bench for the full 90 minutes.
Despite still sitting in the bottom three, Fulham had been on an impressive run to haul themselves back into contention for survival, including a stunning 1-0 win away to Liverpool last weekend.
Scott Parker’s men proved stubborn opponents again for the first 45 minutes, but were architects of their own downfall in the second period.
Guardiola has often started without a recognised striker this season but with Jesus and Aguero paired up front, it took the visitors time to adjust to a new system.
All Fulham’s good work was blown away inside the first two minutes of the second-half as Stones opened the floodgates by latching onto Joao Cancelo’s free-kick for a simple finish.
Fulham opened themselves up for the second as Joachim Andersen’s clearance ricocheted off teammate Ivan Cavaleiro into the path of Jesus, who coolly rounded Alphonse Areola before blasting into an empty net.
Aguero’s appearances have been restricted this season by injuries and a positive coronavirus test.
City’s all-time top scorer had not netted in the Premier League since January 2020, but when Ferran Torres was felled inside the box by Tosin Adarabioyo, the Argentine quickly grabbed the ball.
Failure to score from the spot has been one of City’s few weaknesses this season, but restored to penalty duty, Aguero made no mistake.
BLUES ATTACK DRAWS BLANKS
The Blues remain unbeaten in 12 games since Thomas Tuchel replaced the sacked Frank Lampard and kept a 10th clean sheet in that run at Elland Road.
However, Chelsea remain far from prolific at the other end despite the wealth of attacking talent at Tuchel’s disposal.
“We created enough chances and enough touches in the box to score one or two goals. Unfortunately, we didn’t, so we have to live with a draw,” said Tuchel.
“We were not clinical enough in our counter-attacks. We take a 0-0.’”
Kai Havertz kept his place as a false nine with strikers Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud left on the bench and had the visitors’ best chance with a driven effort than Illan Meslier tipped over.
Leeds lost top scorer Patrick Bamford to injury in the first-half, but could have claimed victory themselves as Edouard Mendy made brilliant saves to deny Tyler Roberts and Raphinha.
A point edges fourth-placed Chelsea three points clear of West Ham, who have two games in hand.
Everton are still five points adrift of the top four as they failed to win for the sixth time in seven home league games this year.
Burnley’s bright start was rewarded with a vital three points in their battle to beat the drop. Chris Wood opened the scoring before Dwight McNeil’s sensational strike doubled the visitors’ lead.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson also hit the post for Sean Dyche’s men before Dominic Calvert-Lewin pulled a goal back for Everton.
The hosts lost goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to injury before half-time and a nervy moment from his replacement Joao Virginia nearly gifted Matej Vydra a third early in the second-half.
But Burnley comfortably held out to open up a seven-point gap above the relegation zone.
Palace moved above Leeds into 11th with a 1-0 win over West Brom with Zaha’s stance before kick-off grabbing the headlines.
The Ivory Coast international stood tall while the rest of his Palace teammates and their opponents took the knee.
The 28-year-old revealed last month when speaking at the Financial Times’ Business of Football summit that he would no longer perform the gesture against racial injustice, which has been followed by Premier League players, officials and staff since June.
“My decision to stand at kick-off has been public knowledge for a couple of weeks now,” Zaha said in a statement released on Saturday.
“There is no right or wrong decision, but for me personally I feel kneeling has just become a part of the pre-match routine and at the moment it doesn’t matter whether we kneel or stand, some of us still continue to receive abuse.
“I know there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes at the Premier League and other authorities to make change, and I fully respect that, and everyone involved. I also fully respect my team-mates and players at other clubs who continue to take the knee.
“As a society, I feel we should be encouraging better education in schools, and social media companies should be taking stronger action against people who abuse others online – not just footballers.
“I now just want to focus on football and enjoy being back playing on the pitch. I will continue to stand tall.”
Zaha joins Championship clubs Millwall, Derby, Bournemouth and Brentford in no longer taking part in kneeling before matches.
Once the action began, Luka Milivojevic scored the only goal from the penalty spot to plunge the Baggies ever closer to a return to the Championship.
Sam Allardyce’s men remain eight points adrift of safety in 19th with just nine games left to save themselves.