Carlos Tevez fired a hat-trick and fellow Argentine Sergio Aguero scored twice as Manchester City thrashed Norwich City 6-1 to move within two points of Premier League leaders Manchester United on Saturday.
Former skipper Tevez, who was handed his first start since September in midweek after making peace with City manager Roberto Mancini, produced a scintillating display to fuel his side's title hopes and pile pressure on United.
City have 77 points with four games remaining, including a home clash with United who have 79 from one game fewer. Thanks to their commanding win at Norwich, City's goal difference is significantly eight superior to their title rivals.
United, whose shock midweek defeat at Wigan Athletic combined with City's home win against West Bromwich Albion, rekindled the title race, host Aston Villa on Sunday.
Impressive as City were, a rather subdued Mancini refused to talk up his side's hopes of winning the club's first English title since 1968 when interviewed after the game."It was a fantastic performance," the Italian said "We need to finish well in the championship and we are starting to play very well, which is very important. But when you fight against a fantastic team like United it's impossible. (The title race) it's finished."
The mercurial Tevez opened the scoring after 18 minutes with a wickedly dipping shot that beat flapping Norwich keeper John Ruddy and his clever back heel nine minutes later allowed Aguero to smash home City's second.
Norwich threatened a revival when Andrew Surman shot through a crowd of players after 51 minutes but the visitors weathered a few anxious moments and then romped to victory. Tevez nodded the third after 73 minutes when Yaya Toure's shot bounced back off Ruddy, Aguero curled in his second two minutes later and Tevez completed his hat-trick by almost walking the ball into the net after a defensive mistake.