LONDON (Reuters) - Champions-elect Manchester City looked strangely out of sorts during the first 45 minutes of their Premier League clash with Leicester City.
But after the break they were transformed as Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne put on an attacking masterclass to help the runaway leaders rout the 2016 champions 5-1.
The Argentine scored four second-half goals to take his season’s tally to 21, while De Bruyne pulled the strings at the heart of City’s attacking orchestra, adding three assists in another flawless performance.
The Belgian tore Leicester apart with an unrivalled range of short and long passing and will take some catching in the contest for the Premier League’s player of the year.
Aguero is the fourth player — after Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Harry Kane — to score 20-plus goals in four consecutive Premier League campaigns.
De Bruyne, meanwhile, has registered more assists than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues since 2012.
“Kevin is an amazing player so it’s good that he’s playing with us,” Aguero told Sky Sports.
“I don’t know (which was my favourite goal) — maybe the last one because it’s a long time since I scored from outside the box. We are happy, so we have to continue the same way now. Today was an important three points.
“Now we have Champions League, and the (Carabao Cup) final, so important games. We are close (to the title). We have more important games.”
With the pair ably backed by a sensational supporting cast, including Leroy Sane, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, City have scored 20 more goals than the next-best attacking side, Liverpool, and amassed 16 points more than city rivals United, in second place.
Hurtling towards the title in a style rarely seen before, Pep Guardiola’s side have been labelled by many the best to grace the Premier League.
City have only 11 more matches to navigate en route to what would be their first championship since 2014 and also remain firmly in the hunt in the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.
“Hopefully we can fight for every game in all competitions. We can try and do absolutely everything,” Guardiola told the BBC.
“But we can drop points, lose games, but as long as we are who we are. My advice for the players is not to think how many games are left, just to look to the next one.
“Every time we dropped points this season, the next game we won, which is so important. Keeping that consistency is so important for us. If we are able to win the title it will be something special for us.”
Reporting By Tom Hayward,; Editing by Neville Dalton