LONDON (AFP) - Manchester City fired a warning to their title rivals as they swept to the top of the Premier League with a ruthless 5-1 rout of 10-man Tottenham on Wednesday.
Manuel Pellegrini's side took advantage of Arsenal's draw at Southampton 24 hours earlier to knock the Gunners out of first place and open up a one-point lead in the race for the title.
City's victory was tinged with controversy after they were awarded a dubious penalty that produced their second goal and a red card for Tottenham left-back Danny Rose, but there was no questioning the visitors' supremacy at White Hart Lane.
Sergio Aguero had opened the scoring before Yaya Toure's penalty and further goals from Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and Vincent Kompany underlined City's superiority.
Etienne Capoue got one back for Spurs, but this was a major statement of intent from City, whose celebrations were slightly dampened by the injury that forced Argentina striker Aguero to limp off just before half-time.
City, who are now unbeaten in 20 matches in all competitions and have scored 21 goals in their last five games, routed Tottenham 6-0 at Eastlands on November 24 and this win was equally impressive in its' own way.
Spurs had won five of their six league games since Tim Sherwood took charge, but they were made to look like raw rookies by a City performance that bore the hallmark of potential champions.
City had taken just 14 seconds to get on the scoresheet against Spurs in the Eastlands massacre and Aguero gave the hosts an early scare on a freezing night in north London when he lashed a shot against the far post from a tight angle.
Rather than tighten up at the back, Tottenham continued to let City dominate possession and they paid the price in the 15th minute.
David Silva was granted too much time on the ball in midfield and he weighed up his options before sliding a clever pass towards Aguero, who had timed his run perfectly to escape Dawson's attentions.
Aguero took full advantage as he clipped a sublime finish past Lloris into the far corner for his 26th goal of the season.
City were pouring forward in swaggering style and Aguero lashed a fierce volley just over after Rose cleared off the line from the Argentinian's initial header.
After completely dominating the opening period, City survived a rare anxious moment when Michael Dawson volleyed home from Christen Eriksen's free-kick only to see his effort ruled out for a tight offside.
It was a tribute to City's class that even Aguero's departure, the Argentinian forward limping off after pulling up abruptly just before half-time, could not disrupt their rhythm.
Given their first-half dominance, City would probably have won anyway, but they received a helping hand from the officials for their second goal in the 51st minute.
When Dzeko raced onto a through-ball into the penalty area, Rose launched himself into a last-ditch challenge and appeared to win the ball before making contact with the Bosnian.
However, referee Andre Marriner awarded a penalty after acting on the advice of his assistant and then compounded Tottenham's misery by sending off Rose.
Ivory Coast midfielder Toure swept in the spot-kick to put City in total control and Dzeko rubbed salt into Tottenham's wounds two minutes later.
Lloris made an excellent save to push Silva's effort onto a post, but the rebound landed perfectly for Dzeko to steer his shot into the roof of the net.
Tottenham reduced the deficit in the 59th minute when substitute Capoue bundled home after City failed to deal with Eriksen's corner.
But Jovetic made it four in the 78th minute when his shot deflected in off Vlad Chiriches to give the Montenegro striker his first Premier League goal.
And City captain Kompany sealed the rout with a tap-in after Dzeko's shot deflected into his path in the 89th minute.