London (AFP) – Manchester City moved to the brink of sealing their place in the Premier League top four by bouncing back to form to thrash Newcastle 5-0, while Wolves’ Champions League aspirations stumbled again in a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United.
City lost for the ninth time in the league this season at Southampton on Sunday despite dominating possession and chances in a recurring theme of their season.
But Pep Guardiola’s men have also showed what they are capable of when at their best since football’s restart last month, winning all four games at the Etihad by a combined score of 17-0.
Gabriel Jesus was one of the main culprits when it came to missed chances at St Mary’s, but the Brazilian got the confidence boost he needed after just 10 minutes as he steered David Silva’s cross into the far corner.
Kevin De Bruyne then moved to within one of Thierry Henry’s record of 20 Premier League assists in a season with another low cross that picked out Riyad Mahrez for a simple finish.
There was more than a hint of fortune to City’s third as Matt Ritchie’s attempted clearance ricocheted off Federico Fernandez into his own net.
Silva’s appearances at the Etihad are running out with the Spaniard ending his 10-year stay in Manchester when City’s season finishes in August, but he left another reminder of why he will be so missed with a sumptuous free-kick to make it 4-0.
And Silva turned provider again in stoppage time for Raheem Sterling to round off the scoring.
City will find out next week if the club’s appeal against a two-season ban from European competition to the Court of Arbitration for Sport has been successful.
But they have almost done the job on the field to qualify for the Champions League for a 10th consecutive season with a 14-point lead over fifth-placed Manchester United, who have five games remaining.
Wolves’ struggle to score goals since the restart has hampered their push for the top four as Nuno Espirito Santo’s men fell to a second straight defeat when John Egan’s powerful header won Sheffield United all three points in stoppage time at Bramall Lane.
Victory moves the Blades up to seventh to within one point of Wolves, who remain seven points adrift of the top four.
At the bottom of the table West Ham failed to give themselves more breathing space from the bottom three with a 1-0 home defeat to Burnley.
Jay Rodriguez’s header seven minutes before half-time moved the Clarets into the top half of the table.
West Ham remain four points above the relegation zone, but Villa and Bournemouth, who host Manchester United and Tottenham respectively, have the chance to narrow that gap on Thursday.