Manchester City struck four second-half goals against a spirited Aston Villa side to put one hand on the Premier League trophy with this win at the Etihad Stadium.
Edin Dzeko finally settled home nerves by breaking the deadlock after 64 minutes and followed up with his fifth crucial goal in the last three games. Stevan Jovetic and Yaya Toure – the latter netting City’s 100th league goal of the season with a quite brilliant solo effort – added further strikes in the final moments to send City two points clear at the top, with just one game to play, in some style.
With a superior goal difference to Liverpool, City effectively need only a draw from their final game against West Ham on Sunday to claim their second title in three seasons. After Liverpool’s capitulation to Crystal Palace on Monday, City had been expected to cruise home.
That they found the going tough on a night of heavy showers was credit to Villa who, safe from relegation, supposedly had little to play for.
Dzeko’s heroics, in the absence of top scorer Sergio Aguero, further underlined his return to form and confidence this season after recent goals against Crystal Palace and Everton in the run-in. Title nerves and anxiety in the crowd became increasingly obvious throughout a goalless first half.
The hosts looked to step up the tempo after the break and finally picked their way through as the rain pelted down again as Silva fed Zabaleta down the right and his low ball was gratefully tucked in by Dzeko six yards out.
Once Villa were breached, they could not prevent further damage. Zabaleta got inside the full-back again to pull the ball back and although Nasri’s initial shot was blocked by Guzan, Dzeko had a simple job to tap in his second.
Substitute Jovetic made the win comfortable by finishing from the edge of the box and Toure added a fine fourth.
Sunderland secured a 2-0 victory over West Brom meaning Norwich City are down – fourth-from-bottom Baggies are three points and 17 goals better off.