MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, April 3, 2011 (AFP) - Manchester City moved above Chelsea into third place in the Premier League after a crushing 5-0 victory over Sunderland at Eastlands on Sunday.
Adam Johnson marked his first league start for almost three months by opening the scoring in the ninth minute before Carlos Tevez doubled the lead six minutes later from the penalty spot.
|AFP - Manchester City's Adam Johnson (L) runs with the ball during the match against Sunderland|
It was the Argentina striker's 19th in the league this season and David Silva capped another highly impressive display by adding the third before substitute Patrick Vieira got the fourth.
Yaya Toure completed Sunderland's misery in the 73rd minute and ensured City moved to within three points of second-placed Arsenal with seven games remaining.
City manager Roberto Mancini is under pressure to secure a place in next season's Champions League and his club will only have themselves to blame if they do not join European football's elite next season after this rout.
With Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham all failing to win on Saturday, City were desperate to capitalise against a Sunderland side that had lost five of the previous six league games.
Sunderland were being touted to land a Europa League qualifying spot not so long ago but a poor run of form had seen them drop down the table.
And Steve Bruce's side were quickly staring at another defeat as City established a commanding 2-0 lead in the opening 15 minutes.
Johnson broke the deadlock in the ninth minute, the England international finishing off a quality move with an equally impressive finish.
It was started by Toure, who swapped passes with Johnson before his reverse pass found the winger bursting into the penalty area to shoot past Simon Mignolet with a low finish.
And six minutes later it was 2-0 after Tevez beat Sunderland's Belgium international keeper from the penalty spot after Phil Bardsley had clattered into the striker inside the area.
It was too easy for City, who were watched by Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of his team's FA Cup semi-final with City.
Ferguson will have left knowing his Premier League leaders face a battle to keep alive their treble-chasing ambitions at Wembley on April 16.
Once again it was Silva who was pulling the strings for City, the Spaniard's clipped pass over the top of the Sunderland's over-worked defence shortly before half time only narrowly beating Tevez's outstretched foot.
Silva did get on the scoresheet with a simple tap-in after Mario Balotelli's snap shot from Tevez's cross had been blocked in the area in the 63rd minute.
Sunderland were shell-shocked but there was worse to come.
Vieira had only been on the pitch a few moments when he slid home the fourth goal with his very first touch from Aleksander Kolarov's cross in the 67th minute.
It was given by the linesman as Mignolet attempted to clear it off the line, television replays showing the official made the right decision.
Still City were not finished and Toure completed one of the best days of Mancini's reign after lobbing the keeper following a catastrophic pass by Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole.