Kevin De Bruyne starred with a goal and two assists as Manchester City closed to within three points of Premier League leaders Leicester City by overwhelming Sunderland 4-1 on Saturday.
Three first-half goals put Manuel Pellegrini’s side on course for the win at the Etihad Stadium, but it was overshadowed by an injury to Vincent Kompany.
City’s captain, returning as a second-half substitute after eight matches out with a calf injury, lasted only eight minutes before he had to come off.
Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony all scored in the first 25 minutes for Pellegrini’s team, with De Bruyne adding a further goal in the second half.
Bony then missed a penalty after Fabio Borini had pulled a goal back for Sunderland.
Pellegrini opted for a two-man attack, with Sterling working in partnership with Bony.
The former Liverpool forward’s first contribution was to pick up a yellow card for diving as he attempted unsuccessfully to convince the officials that he had been barged over by Sunderland right-back Billy Jones.
But the England international gave City the advantage moments later when he sneaked in behind Jones at the far post to head in De Bruyne’s cross.
City extended that lead moments later, with Toure collecting David Silva’s short square pass and turning away from a weak Jordi Gomez challenge before planting a low shot into the net from 20 yards.
Danny Graham headed wide a great chance to pull Sunderland back into the match minutes later, having found space to connect with Borini’s diagonal chip.
But City responded to that escape by scoring again, Bony climbing to head in De Bruyne’s free-kick from 12 yards.
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