Manchester City hammered West Ham 5-0 in their own backyard on Friday night as they moved into the FA Cup fourth round.
City boss Pep Guardiola threw his strongest line-up at West Ham and it paid dividends as they blew the Hammers away in a super first-half showing with three goals before adding a two more in the second half.
BBC pundit Martin Keown claimed the second half had a “testimonial feel” as City dominated their Premier League rivals with the slick style of football which attracted them to former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola.
The biggest surprise was that it took 33 minutes for Yaya Toure to fire the visitors ahead from the spot after Pablo Zabaleta was controversially brought down by Angelo Ogbonna.
City then made it 2-0 on 41 minutes after brilliant sweeping move which ended with Bacary Sagna’s fine cross from the right being turned in by the unfortunate Havard Nordtveit.
And just moments later City’s slick possession and quick movement freed Raheem Sterling and his low cross was tucked away by David Silva to make it 3-0.
City maintained their assault after half-time and five minutes after the restart City made it 4-0 when Sterling found Yaya Toure and his low shot was flicked in from close range by Sergio Aguero.
John Stones (84) rounded off the scoring with a powerful header from a corner that Mark Noble could not keep out on the line.
The penalty decision which opened the floodgates may have been debatable, but the result was not and vindicated Guardiola’s line-up.
The City boss has endured a strange week after a defeat at Liverpool and a series of tetchy post-match interviews following the win at Burnley.
But rather than weaken his team for his first FA Cup tie, the Spaniard proved he is taking the competition seriously by recalling Silva and Aguero.
West Ham, by contrast, started with their star man Dimitri Payet on the bench and immediately found themselves under the cosh.
Silva’s early cut-back found Pablo Zabaleta, whose goalbound shot was bravely blocked by Winston Reid, before Gael Clichy set up Silva only for his effort to be kept out by Adrian at the near post.
Sterling was then denied by a superbly timed Reid tackle and from the resulting corner Adrian tipped Aguero’s volley over.
The pressure was always going to tell, though, and in the 32nd minute Zabaleta tumbled to the floor under Angelo Ogbonna’s challenge.
There was only minimal contact but referee Michael Oliver quickly pointed to the spot and Toure stepped up to lash the penalty past Adrian.
West Ham may have felt hard done by but there was no justification for the collapse which followed.
They did almost hit back immediately when Michail Antonio forced a save out of Willy Caballero, but Sofiane Feghouli was unable to tuck the rebound into an unguarded net.
That proved a false dawn as City doubled their lead in the 41st minute, Sterling arriving at the far post and forcing an own goal from Nordtveit as he tried desperately to clear Sagna’s cross.
Suddenly it was all too easy for City as two minutes later Sterling took his turn to race down West Ham’s unmanned left-hand side.
The England international laid the ball across goal to Silva, who from six yards out had time to take a touch, steady himself, and probably do a crossword had he felt like it, before slotting in the third.
Five minutes after the interval it was four, Toure rifling a shot through a crowded area and Aguero diverting the ball into the net.
A chastening evening for West Ham got even worse six minutes from full-time when Stones headed in Nolito’s corner, as Guardiola served notice that City might just fancy a crack at lifting the famous trophy in May.