Manchester City moved back above Liverpool at the top of the Premier League after easing to victory against struggling Cardiff.
An eighth successive league win for the defending champions was seldom in doubt and means they lead Jurgen Klopp’s team by a point with six games remaining.
Pep Guardiola’s side, who are chasing an unprecedented quadruple, know they will finish top if they win their remaining matches but it is unlikely many of them will be as straightforward as this one.
Kevin de Bruyne took just five minutes to open the scoring with his first league goal since 22 December, running on to Aymeric Laporte’s pass and squeezing his shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
More Manchester City possession and chances followed, before Leroy Sane made it 2-0 just before half-time, burying his shot into the bottom corner after a neat chested knock-down from Gabriel Jesus.
Cardiff, who remain five points adrift of safety, barely threatened at the other end and did not register an effort at goal or a touch in the home area until Junior Hoilett had a hopeful shot blocked at the very end of the first half.
They did not manage a serious foray forward until Oumar Niasse broke away to force Ederson into a fine save after 85 minutes, while Manchester City continued to pepper Neil Etheridge’s goal with shots.
Phil Foden had two efforts brilliantly stopped by Etheridge as he tried unsuccessfully to mark his first league start with a goal, while Jesus saw an elaborate flick fly wide when it appeared easy to tap the ball home, with his blushes saved by an offside flag.
Despite failing to add to their tally in the second half, Manchester City’s goal difference is now nine better than Liverpool’s – although the Reds can replace them at the top if they win at Southampton on Friday.
Elsewhere yesterday, Chelsea defeated Brighton 3-0 to go on same points as Srsenal who have a game at hand while Tottenham Hotspur opened their new stadium with 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace to remain third on the log.