Manchester City moved into third place in the Premier League with a 5-0 demolition of Sunderland at Eastlands on Sunday.
Roberto Mancini’s side killed off the Black Cats with goals from Adam Johnson and Carlos Tevez in the first 15 minutes, before David Silva, Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure netted in the second half.
City’s biggest league win of the season lifted them one point ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea and six in front of Tottenham in fifth spot, leaving Mancini’s men in good shape in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
In stark contrast, mid-table Sunderland have now lost six of their last seven matches.
Johnson opened the scoring with a fine finish in the ninth minute and skipper Tevez struck from the penalty-spot after the Argentina forward was fouled by Phil Bardsley six minutes later.
Silva scored the third with a close-range effort after Mario Balotelli’s shot was blocked in the 63rd minute.
City substitute Vieira slid in to convert an Aleksander Kolarov cross for the fourth in the 67th minute, before Toure intercepted Lee Cattermole’s woeful pass and clipped his shot past Simon Mignolet in the 73rd minute.
Mancini believes City are benefiting from going out of the Europa League as they have more time to rest now.
“We played very well. We started well and pressed from the first minute,” he said. “In the last 45 days we’ve played every three days and we’ve had more injuries. That was the problem.”
“Now all the players have recovered and we play only on Saturdays so we don’t have a problem,” he said.
In the day’s other match, Fulham forward Bobby Zamora plunged Blackpool further into the relegation mire as his double-strike inspired a 3-0 win at Craven Cottage.
Zamora scored twice in the space of five minutes midway through the first half and Dickson Etuhu struck after the interval to lift Fulham into mid-table and leave Blackpool just one point and one place above the relegation zone with seven games to play.
Fulham boss Mark Hughes saluted Zamora’s display in his first start for seven months after recovering from a broken leg.
“I thought that Bobby got over the last hurdle in his head after the injury in terms of starting games and I couldn’t have hoped for a better impact from him,” Hughes said.
“Straight from the off he showed qualities that we have missed and lacked for many games this season. It was a perfect day for him,” he said.
“We’re something like three points from seventh. It’s possible we can really establish ourselves from now until the end of the season in that top half,” Hughes said.
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