Manchester City's astonishing winning run stretched to 17 games with a 4-0 hammering of Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium, as record-breaker Sergio Aguero stole the show with a double.
Pep Guardiola's side could perhaps be accused of not reaching their usual lofty standards, but Bournemouth rarely appeared capable of punishing any complacency and once Aguero – who is reportedly unhappy with his coach's rotation policy – opened the scoring, there was no looking back.
City looked particularly sluggish at times in the first half, though it still was not surprising when they took the lead just before the half-hour mark, as Aguero nodded in his 100th goal at the Etihad, the perfect tonic for any Guardiola grievances.
The hosts tightened things up in the second half and looked a far more focused unit, especially after doubling their lead through Sterling, who scored his seventh goal in five games against the Cherries.
Aguero doubled his tally for the day 11 minutes from time with another well-taken header to round off an impressive performance from the Argentinian.
2 - Sergio Aguero netted two headed goals in a game for the first-time ever within Europe's big five leagues. Crown. — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 23, 2017
And Danilo added their fourth late in the day with his first goal for the club, as City go to within two victories of the longest winning run ever in Europe's top five leagues and 14 points clear of Manchester United, who face Leicester City later on Saturday.
Despite City's attempts to monopolise possession, Bournemouth will have been happy with their start, as they went close to the opening goal in the 10th minute.
Adam Smith darted up the right flank and delivered a cross, pulling it back towards the edge of the area where Junior Stanislas was waiting to volley just wide of the right-hand post.
City eventually crafted their first opportunity 10 minutes later, as Aguero latched on to Nicolas Otamendi's lofted pass and put his effort over.
He found his range shortly after, though, steering a stooping header into the bottom-left corner from Fernandinho's cross after being left completely unmarked.
But Bournemouth finished the first half well and threatened to equalise just before the break.
Ryan Fraser's pass in behind City's defence forced Ederson to rush off his line and make a tackle on the edge of the area, knocking the ball to Kyle Walker, who passed it straight to Callum Wilson, only for Otamendi to make an important last-ditch intervention.
City appeared much sharper all over the pitch upon the restart, affording Bournemouth even fewer opportunities to attack.
And their second goal in the 53rd minute effectively ended the visitors' already slim chances.
David Silva – back after missing the last two games for personal reasons – found Aguero on the edge of the box and the striker flicked a fine pass into the area for Sterling to collect and slot past Asmir Begovic.
City's control on proceedings only seemed to increase after that goal and they added a third for good measure in the 79th minute – Aguero heading in Bernardo Silva's fine cross.
Danilo then rounded things off late on, sweeping a left-footed effort inside the left-hand post after a fine run and pass from the electric Sterling.
Key Opta facts:
- Manchester City became the first top-flight team to score 100 goals in a calendar year since Liverpool in 1982 (106)
- Bournemouth failed to score in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since January 2016.
- City extended their winning run to 17 Premier League games. Within Europe's big five leagues, only one side has ever enjoyed a longer winning streak – Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich in 2013-14.
- City’s current winning run is one more victory than Bournemouth have picked up in total in the Premier League since the start of last season (16).