LONDON • It was not until the second half yesterday that Manchester City finally got going and, while they cut the gap to Liverpool to three points - at least until the Premier League leaders entertain Tottenham today - Pep Guardiola knows his side have to be more clinical in front of goal.
Three goals after the break from Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan ensured a comfortable 3-0 win for the champions at the Etihad yesterday, but the City boss will be concerned by their lack of ruthlessness, an issue he recently highlighted.
The visitors also came to play, with Trezeguet, Jack Grealish, Wesley and John McGinn looking dangerous in combination.
The lack of a clinical edge at the opposite end was illustrated when Sterling teed up Silva - only for the latter to spray wide.
However, it took just 23 seconds into the second half for Sterling to show Silva just how to finish.
A high ball was inadvertently knocked by Tyrone Mings into Sterling's path and, after advancing on Tom Heaton's goal, the City forward finished through his England teammate's legs for his 13th goal of the season and eighth in the league.
He is just one goal behind top scorer Jamie Vardy of Leicester.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Southampton 0 Leicester 9
West Ham 1 Sheffield Utd 1
Watford 0 Bournemouth 0
Brighton 3 Everton 2
Burnley v Chelsea Late kick-off
Newcastle v Wolves Ch102 & Ch227, 10pm
Liverpool v Tottenham Ch102 & Ch227, tomorrow, 12.30am
Norwich v Man United Ch103 & Ch228, tomorrow, 12.30am
Arsenal v Crystal Palace Ch104 & Ch229, tomorrow, 12.30am
Gabriel Jesus' shot was then cleared off the line by Mings before City got their second in the 65th minute.
Kevin de Bruyne sent a curling ball into the area which Silva, who was offside, looked to have got a touch before it went in. After a lengthy VAR (video assistant referee) review, the goal stood.
Gundogan followed suit with a half-volley into the net five minutes later.
In the 87th minute, City's copybook was somewhat blotted after Fernandinho received a second yellow card - for a foul on Keinan Davis - incurring a one-match ban that will apply for Tuesday's fourth-round League Cup tie with Southampton.
Afterwards, Guardiola told the BBC that "we played not so good" in the first half, but "were another level" after that.
"Aston Villa played very well in the first half," he said.
"They are newly promoted and played with real spirit, attacking the channels well. But the second half, I don't know if we played good because we played differently or scored early, but we won. It was a special second half."
De Bruyne agreed with his manager's assessment that "we lacked a bit of intensity and the rhythm was not really there" from the opening whistle.
While City could improve on their finishing yesterday, there were no such issues for Leicester on Friday night as they put nine unanswered goals past Southampton for the biggest away win in English top-flight history.
Praising his players for showing they were a "top team" at St Mary's, Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers added: "We believe in our work, believe we can push over the course of the season.
"Our mentality is how we work every day. The players want to get better and improve."
DPA, THE GUARDIAN