Erling Haaland equalled another record as Manchester City increased the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal with a 3-1 win over relegation-threatened Leicester.
The prolific Norwegian struck twice at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to draw level with the competition’s record of 32 goals for a 38-game season.
His double came after a superb early strike from John Stones and all but wrapped up a victory for City that cut the Gunners’ lead at the top to three points inside 25 minutes.
Former City striker Kelechi Iheanacho pulled one back and later hit a post as City surprisingly finished nervily but it was still a tough first afternoon in charge for new Leicester manager Dean Smith.
Seven years after winning the title, the Foxes remain in the bottom three with time running out.
Haaland might have even have fancied his chances of rubbing salt in their wounds with a remarkable seventh hat-trick of the season but, with the job seemingly done, manager Pep Guardiola replaced him at half-time.
The forward’s double nevertheless took his overall tally for the campaign to a barely believable 47 from 40 appearances.
And with eight games still to play, the Premier League’s overall record of 34 goals – held jointly by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole – is under serious threat.
Smith made four changes in attempt to lift a side that had collected just one point in their previous eight games, including bringing back the fit-again Youri Tielemans and recalling Caglar Soyuncu.
It seemed to make little difference as City needed just five minutes to take the lead.
Their opener may have come from a relatively unlikely source but, such is the form that Stones is in, that it should have come as no surprise.
HALF-TIME | What a first half! ?
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 15, 2023
The England international has excelled in his defence-midfield hybrid role and he showed he can also finish with a stunning effort from distance after Leicester failed to clear a corner.
City immediately chased a second and, after Leicester survived a goalmouth scramble and one penalty appeal, it came from the spot after referee Darren England gave handball against Wilfred Ndidi following a screen check.
Haaland made no mistake as he thumped a shot into the bottom corner.
Leicester tried to respond as James Maddison had a shot blocked and Jamie Vardy hit the side netting but City soon took firm control as the irrepressible Haaland grabbed his second.
This one was made by Kevin De Bruyne, who seized possession in midfield and released the striker with a clever ball between two defenders.
Haaland raced past both and calmly lifted over the advancing Daniel Iversen to add yet another goal to his phenomenal tally.
The game already seemed as good as over and City eased off the throttle.
Smith may have breathed a sigh of relief when Haaland did not return for the second half, making way for World Cup-winner Julian Alvarez. Stones was also given a rest with Manuel Akanji coming off the bench.
Riyad Mahrez forced a good save from Iversen early in the second half but the game soon settled back into a familiar rhythm.
To their credit, Leicester finished strongly and Iheanacho pulled one back when he pounced from close range after Ederson parried from a corner.
Maddison then forced Ederson to save and Iheanacho hit a post. Leicester also had a penalty appeal for handball against Sergio Gomez rejected but, while Guardiola will doubtless find fault with the game’s ending, City were not to be denied.