Man City's seven-goal super show puts them clear at the top
Record-breaking Manchester City opened up a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with another demonstration of bewildering brilliance in their 7-2 thrashing of Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola's title favourites looked irresistible as goals from Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and David Silva in the opening half-hour put the seal on their dazzling football and made a sixth straight league win a seeming formality.
Yet against all odds, Mame Biram Diouf pulled one back just before the break and soon after halftime his header deflected off Kyle Walker's thigh into the net.
City then went into overdrive, with Jesus - his second goal was his seventh this season - Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva getting in on the act to ensure they scored at least five at the Etihad for the third straight league match.
In the process, while taking their unbeaten record at the Etihad to 20 games, they also became the first English top-flight team to score 29 goals in their opening eight league games of the season since Everton achieved the feat in 1894-95.
They also did it without having to call on the services of Sergio Aguero, who was back on the substitutes' bench for the first time since his car accident a fortnight ago.
The man of the match did not even get on the scoresheet either, although City's midfield lynchpin Kevin De Bruyne was involved in four of the goals on his 100th appearance for the club.
The Belgian is ensuring that he is the early front-runner to be England's player of the season with a series of magnificent performances.
"Hopefully, Kevin can keep it going - he's a top, top player," a delighted Guardiola told Sky Sports.
"We're so happy with the victory and the way we played. The spirit is so good in the locker-room. Today was the first time since I've been here that we've played for such a long period as well as that."
De Bruyne told BBC Sport: "We play in a flow at the moment, we are playing well. Not just me. It looks wonderful to see the goals. It's not an individual action."
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond)