Manchester City made it eight Premier League wins in a row after thrashing struggling Newcastle United 4-0 at St James' Park on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola's side were at their ruthless best on Tyneside, although they were helped on their way by some atrocious defending from the Magpies.
First-half goals from Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo put table-toppers City on their way, with Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling completing the rout after the break.
“A good result, not a good performance,” said Guardiola. “We were lucky but Newcastle did not defend well for the first goal and a brilliant action from Joao Cancelo for the second goal. The first half was one of the worst we have played this season and second half was much better.”
The opening goal in particular, was a disaster from a Newcastle point of view and explains why the hosts have won just one of the 18 league games they have played this season and sit joint bottom of the table.
Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka needlessly conceded a corner after dwelling on Jamaal Lascelles’ back-pass and after De Bruyne’s initial delivery had been half cleared, Ciaran Clark inexplicably failed to intervene when Cancelo played the ball back across the six-yard box and Dias headed into the unguarded net.
Joelinton might have dragged the home side back into it within five minutes when he drilled a low shot just wide after latching on to Mahrez’s weak clearing header.
To their credit, Newcastle had regrouped swiftly and while they looked vulnerable with Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne picking holes in their rearguard at will, they did pose a threat in attack with Joelinton prominent from a deep-sitting position and Miguel Almiron injecting pace, if not cutting edge.
But the second was in the post and came when Cancelo skipped past challenges from Joe Willock and Isaac Hayden before both Ciaran Clark and Lascelles failed to close down the Portuguese who was able to blast a cracking finish past Dubravka.
Newcastle should then have won a penalty when Ryan Fraser was wiped ouy by City goalkeeper Ederson only for referee Martin Atkinson and VAR to somehow decide no foul was committed. Newcastle manager Eddie Howe called to decision a “baffling” one.
“How it is not a penalty … I am not too sure what happened with VAR and the referee, the goalkeeper wipes out Ryan and it is a stonewaller, a clear penalty,” he added.
Nevertheless, the visitors headed off at the break two goals to the good and with several more gears available to them. Howe introduced Allan Saint-Maximin for the ineffectual Willock at the break but it was City who took control.
Dubravka did well to deny Gabriel Jesus after Silva had headed Cancelo’s 53rd-minute cross back across goal, and he had to be at his best once again to palm away Sterling’s curling effort.
The third did arrive, though, with 26 minutes remaining when Mahrez converted Oleksandr Zinchenko’s perfect cross with a VAR review correcting an initial offside decision. Sterling tapped home the fourth after a fine run and cross from Jesus.
“We played better with the ball [after the break], gave players more touches but were losing balls in the first half. We were calm at half-time and spoke about what we should do,” said Guardiola.
“It was a fantastic goal [from Cancelo], we know the quality he has in the final third and he dribbled and did it.
“Records show consistency we have as a team, it is not winning titles or finals but it is winning and winning. Records are there to be broken and happy to have them.”
For Newcastle, the nightmare season on the pitch continues and the January transfer window cannot come soon enough for Howe or their new Saudi-backed owners. They sit three points shy of safety and have played more games than most of their relegation rivals.
And while their fate this season will not be decided by games against the likes of City, the fact remains they are struggling at both ends of the pitch and only bottom club Norwich City have a worse goal difference.
“It is a really strange game because the results looks bleak for us, the reality of the game feels very different,” insisted Howe. “To stand here and say I am pleased with the players, we got some things in the game right after three big defeats in a row but we have to look at the quality of the opposition.
“There was a good feeling about the team, a good structure and good moments in the match. We are heading in the right direction but have a long way to go.
“We are without the ball for long periods, they are going to have the ball more than you are. To play them with two days less recovery and the physical efforts of the players was extraordinary after the efforts against Liverpool.”