Manchester City extended run of winning games in which they've scored in the first half to 21, as they dispatched Everton 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Gabriel Jesus tripled his league tally with a brace, as Raheem Sterling put the game beyond Everton, after a goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin halved the deficit for the visitors.
Despite the eventually comfortable scoreline, City found it tough in the opening stages of the game, having to soak up their fair share of pressure from Everton. Richarlison actually should have given his side the lead, squandering a gilt-edged opportunity when he found himself unmarked near the far post.
It looked good for the Toffees until they were caught guilty of overplaying at the back. City latched onto a loose ball with Leroy Sane delivering a killer through pass for Jesus to put his side ahead halfway through the first period.
After a disallowed effort in the first half, the Brazilian did double his tally after the break. A poor clearance from the visitors early in the second half produced an all too familiar turn of events, as Sane and Jesus linked up again to add City's second.
Marco Silva brought on two more attacking players in Theo Walcott and Ademola Lookman as the Toffees looked for a way back into the game. And it wasn't long before Calvert-Lewin offered his side a lifeline beating Fabian Delph to a header to make it 2-1 with 25 minutes left on the clock.
With 13 in all competitions since the start of last season, no player has scored more goals for Everton than the young Englishman.
However, the day would belong to City and it was another substitute, Sterling who restored City's two-goal cushion just three minutes later with his first headed goal since 2015.
City go back top of the table, putting pressure on challengers Liverpool ahead of their clash with Man Utd on Sunday.
Key Talking Point
It wasn't perhaps the stand out performance some fans would have wanted as City looked to bounce back from last week, but several key players were rested ahead of a busy festive schedule. It was the kind of professional and consistent performance we've come to expect from a Pep Guardiola side.
Everton threatened throughout but they rarely troubled Ederson Moraes in the City goal who only really had the one save to make.
City - who have now won their last 10 Premier League games at home - kept the ball well, made the most of their chances and most importantly got the job done as Pep looks to navigate the four fixtures packed in before the all-important Liverpool clash.
The champions showed another side to their class today and it's put the pressure back on Jurgen Klopp's side.
Starting XI: Ederson (6), Walker (5), Otamendi (6), Laporte (6), Delph (7), Silva (6), Fernandinho (8), Gundogan (7), Mahrez (8), Jesus (9)*, Sane (8)
Substitutes: Sterling (8), De Bruyne (6)
STAR MAN - With key goal scorers Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling rested for this clash, City needed someone to step up to the mantle. Jesus has struggled for goals this season but he didn't look like a player shy of confidence. He threatened the Everton back five from the start and got the goals for his side today.
His opener marked his first league strike since August, ending a run of 11 games without a goal.
Deserved goal for Gabriel Jesus. His movements in the first 25’ have been phenomenal.— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) December 15, 2018
WORST PERFORMER - Kyle Walker was the weak link in City's defence today with the Citizens soaking up far too much pressure down his flank. The 28-year-old just wasn't on his game today and was second best to Everton full-back Lucas Digne.
Key Talking Point
It was a defensive lineup from Everton, but they also came with a comprehensive plan of attack. The midfield pressed high up the pitch and the full-backs got forward, which disrupted City's game at home.
The temptation is always there to park the bus against a team that attacks as well as City but that also allows them to play the possession game they enjoy so much. Silva planned for an upset against a potentially fragile City side following their first defeat of the season.
It wasn't enough to get a share of the points in the end but that was largely down to some poor decision making at key moments. They'll rue those decisions because it was the only clear difference between the two sides today and this result could easily have been different.
Starting XI: Pickford (7), Digne (8)*, Zouma (7), Keane (6), Mina (5), Coleman (7), Richarlison (5), Sigurdsson (7), Gomes (7), Bernard (6), Calvert-Lewin (6)
Substitutes: Walcott (7), Lookman (6), Davies (6)
STAR MAN - Everton defended well against one of the best attacking sides in the league. Lucas Digne was a particular stand out performer but more for what he offered going forwards, getting the better of Kyle Walker on multiple occasions and provided a dangerous supply line from the wing.
He also had Riyad Mahrez for company at the other end who put in an impressive showing but the Frenchman managed to juggle his responsibilities well.
WORST PERFORMER - Everton tried to match City at their own game, stroking it around at the back. A risky strategy but Yerry Mina has to take the majority of the blame for the opening goal.
If in doubt, kick it out is the kind of thing you learn in as a schoolboy and the Colombian shouldn't be trying to play a tricky ball down the middle when he's under pressure. It's a bad pass in the end and City never looked back after taking the lead.
How did Yerry Mina - a player seemingly incapable of finding a teammate - ever earn a move to Barcelona - a team renowned for their passing philosophy.— Oliver Young-Myles (@OMyles90) December 15, 2018
Yerry Mina’s not been great. Nervy on the ball, couple of stray passes and let his man go at least a couple of times when City on the attack.— Si Lloyd (@SmnLlyd5) December 15, 2018