Manchester – Ilkay Gundogan continued his brilliant form, scoring twice as Premier League leaders Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 on Saturday to keep up their title bid in impressive fashion.
City are on 53 points, seven clear of second-placed Leicester City, and with a game in hand.
And while there are 15 matches still remaining, it will take a major slump in form to stop City from claiming their third title in four years.
“It is a big step for us but of course it is not over,” said Spanish midfielder Rodri.
Pep Guardiola’s side are, however, playing with a swagger having now won 16 straight matches in all competitions and German Gundogan has been central to that record-breaking run of form with 11 goals in his last 12 Premier League outings.
Inventive and alert, Gundogan looks a different player to the steady but unspectacular presence he had been prior to this season and his form means City are barely affected by the absence of their top midfielder, the injured Kevin De Bruyne.
Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, show none of City’s confidence, but they began brightly and went close to opening the scoring through a Harry Kane free kick, a curling effort over the wall, that struck the upright.
But it was City who went in front in the 23rd minute with a Rodri penalty after Gundogan was tripped in the box by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
City had missed three of their previous seven penalties this season and Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris could have saved Rodri’s poorly placed kick which squeezed over his hand.
Mourinho had a point in describing the limited contact on Gundogan as a “modern penalty” but once City had their nose in front there was only one team going to win the encounter.
City turned on their dominant passing game and Spurs had little in response — either with their far from solid defence or an attack lacking craft.
Gundogan made it 2-0 five minutes after the interval, beating Hugo Lloris at the near post after good work from Raheem Sterling.
Then the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder, revelling in a more advanced midfield role, completed the win when he latched on to a superb long ball forward from goalkeeper Ederson, before putting Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez on the floor with some clever footwork and slotting home.
Spurs are in eighth place, four points adrift of the fourth Champions League spot and Mourinho suggested their performance had been impacted by the strain of their midweek FA Cup, 5-4 extra-time, defeat to Everton.
“A fresh team against a very tired team, but a team that started the game very well. We controlled it, we hit the post, and going 1-0 could give us the fuel you need when you are tired,” Mourinho told reporters.
“And then they one more of these modern penalties, I call them modern penalties, that put us in a difficult situation.
“I am very, very happy with the players’ attitude. I had guys on the pitch who played two hours a couple of days ago and they gave everything. I had guys in a difficult situation on the pitch but they were brave.” – Reuters