Manchester City emphatically bounced back from their last-gasp defeat at Chelsea with a 7-0 mauling of Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men were in ruthless mood in front of their home fans yet again, effectively wrapping up victory with three goals in the space of nine first-half minutes before turning on the style after half-time.
In-form frontman Sergio Aguero scored twice and played a part in the first goal on 16 minutes when his shot was blocked and looped over John Ruddy off the unfortunate Bradley Johnson.
Aguero then teed up David Silva for City’s second and the match was all-but over on 25 minutes when Matija Nastasic saw his header from Samir Nasri’s corner trickle into the net.
Alvaro Negredo, who was withdrawn at half-time due to injury, got in on the act on 36 minutes after Aguero’s cut-back and Yaya Toure curled home a sublime free-kick for City’s fifth after the break.
With Norwich all over the place defensively, Aguero lashed home number six after Sebastien Bassong’s weak clearance before substitute Edin Dzeko sealed the rout late on.
Pellegrini’s decision to drop Joe Hart was the focus of pre-match attention but it was at the other end where the action was centred in a one-sided Premier League clash.
In the absence of Hart, Ruddy might have hoped to audition for the England No.1’s international place for this month’s friendlies against Chile and Germany, but he fared badly as the Canaries fell 4-0 behind inside 36 minutes.
So strong was City’s start that Norwich were probably fortunate to keep the game goalless for 16 minutes.
Silva weaved his way into the box on a tricky run but could not pick out a team-mate with his cross and Nasri then played a nice one-two with the Spaniard and powered forward only to slam a shot against the post.
Silva then cut through on the right and picked out Aguero, whose shot was blocked by Michael Turner and rebounded off Johnson to loop over Ruddy for the opener.
The second followed in quick succession as Aguero raced onto a long ball from Nasri and pulled back a fine ball for Silva to fire under Ruddy.
The third came as Nastasic rose unchallenged to meet a Nasri corner and head past Ruddy, albeit with the aid of a wicked deflection off Russell Martin.
Ruddy’s horror show continued as he dropped a corner to present Aguero with another shooting chance but the Argentinian fired into a crowd of bodies.
It was not long before the Canaries were breached again as Toure chipped through for Aguero and he pulled back for Negredo to tap in a fourth.
After 38 minutes, Norwich finally showed some life and gave Pantilimon some work to do as the Romanian was called upon to tip a long-range Anthony Pilkington shot wide.
Normal service was soon resumed as Aguero fed Toure but the Ivorian turned to shoot straight at Ruddy, earning the Norwich keeper a round of sarcastic applause.
Norwich at least started the second half brightly and Pantilimon came off his line to punch away a floated free-kick from Pilkington.
Substitute Johan Elmander should then have done better after a Martin Demichelis mistake allowed Johnson to cross but the Swede shot wide from close range.
City went back on the attack and Ruddy saved well from Nasri before Aguero put the rebound into the side-netting.
When substitute Dzeko was fouled on the edge of the box, Toure immediately fancied his chances of adding a fifth.
In what is almost becoming a trademark finish, the Ivorian curled a fine shot into the top-left corner, a strike almost identical to efforts against Newcastle, Hull and Wigan already this season.
Aguero finallygot on the scoresheet after 71 minutes when Bassong’s poor attempt to cut out a Silva cross fell to the Argentinian and he volleyed in.
There was time for No.7, too, this time Dzeko was the scorer, turning sharply from a Jesus Navas pass to fire home.
Shockers in every Premier league match as the season gets hotter and hotter after each match.
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