Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko both scored twice as Manchester City made a huge title statement against their fierce rivals Manchester United with a crushing 6-1 victory at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Balotelli, who had found himself subject of more headlines after a fire at his home, put City into the lead after 22 minutes with a clinical low shot from the edge of the area.
The controversial Italian marked the goal by lifting his shirt to reveal a T-shirt saying “Why Always Me?”.
United’s problems increased considerably as Jonny Evans was sent off within two minutes of the restart for denying Balotelli a goalscoring opportunity by pulling back his arm when clean through.
Although the resulting free-kick on the edge of the box came to nothing, City doubled their lead on the hour when David Silva caught the home defence with a brilliant ball for James Milner inside the area and Baloteli arrived unmarked to turn in the cross from close range.
The visitors were in complete control and claimed a third after 69 minutes as Milner played Richards into space on the right and he duly squared for Aguero to slide home from six yards.
Darren Fletcher pulled one back in the 81st minute before City unleashed a sensational blitz of three goals in the closing stages, Dzeko getting two of them and Silva the other.
Roberto Mancini’s men are now five points clear of United at the top of the Barclays Premier League .
Elsewhere, Robin van Persie scored twice after coming on as a substitute as Arsenal finally saw off Stoke 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners had been pegged back by Peter Crouch’s goal, which cancelled out an opener from Gervinho.
But Van Persie, rested from the starting line-up by manager Arsene Wenger, bailed his team-mates out with his eighth and ninth goals of the season in the second half.
Last-gasp efforts from Louis Saha and Jack Rodwell earned Everton a 3-1 victory at Fulham.
Royston Drenthe’s splendid early strike gave the Toffees a third-minute lead but Bryan Ruiz’s exquisite chip looked to earn a share of the spoils.
However, late efforts from Saha and Rodwell secured a shock victory in west London.