Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City took a huge step to regaining the Premier League title with a commanding 2-0 win at Leicester.
Benjamin Mendy and Gabriel Jesus, on his 24th birthday, scored to wrap up a dominant and deserved win for City.
It was their 15th straight away win in all competitions and left them 17 points clear at the top of the Premier League, having played two games more than Manchester United.
They outclassed the third-placed Foxes, who had won 5-2 at City’s ground back in September, and need three wins from their final seven games to clinch a fifth Premier League crown.
Guardiola said: “The Premier League is the nicest competition (to win), it is 11 months and it is so tough. We are close. We need three more wins.
“You have to be patient to attack Leicester because they defend so well. It’s a good victory and it’s another step.
“All the managers think the same after the international break, how the players will be back. Again these players proved how consistent they are.
“We’re very pleased, a tough opponent, a huge victory.
“Yesterday the players came back, I spoke to some of them, some were tired after three games in 10 days. We tried to put the fresh legs on today.
“We had the goal disallowed, we hit the crossbar, it was quite a similar game to Everton.
“We had to be patient, don’t concede and don’t give them chances. We are not going to win in five or 10 minutes, it was important to have patience.”
Leicester were second best from the start and Fernandinho found the corner from 30 yards after five minutes, only for his goal to be ruled out with the offside Sergio Aguero obstructing Kasper Schmeichel’s view.
Kevin De Bruyne’s 20-yard free kick clattered the bar as City pinned Leicester back but they still escaped in first-half stoppage time.
Ayoze Perez slipped in Jamie Vardy who rounded Ederson to score but he was denied by an offside flag.
City’s dominance continued after the break and Mendy broke Leicester’s resistance in the 58th minute when he curled in from 10 yards.
With 16 minutes left it was 2-0, De Bruyne’s brilliant throughball split the Foxes’ defence and Jesus swapped passes with substitute Raheem Sterling to score.
It was the striker’s fifth goal in six top flight games against the Foxes and boss Brendan Rodgers knows they were beaten by the better team.
“The first hour of the game we were defensively solid and didn’t give away so much,” said Rodgers, who confirmed defender Caglar Soyuncu was missing after testing positive for coronavirus while on international duty with Turkey.
“We weren’t as efficient with the ball but defensively we were OK. We’re disappointed with the two goals, we could have been better with those but we got a little bit disorganised.
“We lost to the better team. The players kept going and we had some good chances but we can have no complaints.
“They are a fantastic team, you see the likes of Raheem (Sterling) coming into the game and he’s a world-class player.
“There’s no shame, we won a great game up at their place, we lost today. We’ll look at it and we’ll have a good week next week.”