MAN CITY 4, ASTON VILLA 0
Edin Dzeko soothed the nerves as Manchester City moved tantalisingly close to winning a second Barclays Premier League title.
The Bosnian scored twice in an eight- minute spell midway through the second half to finally overcome spirited Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium.
And it leaves City, who added two further late goals from substitute Stevan Jovetic and Yaya Toure, needing only one point from Sunday’s final game at home to West Ham for them to be crowned champions.
It looked for almost three quarters of the match that it might be a frustrating night for City as they were unable to breach Villa’s packed defence.
Dzeko then rode to the rescue as his double secured victory and took his personal total for the season to 26 goals and sparking joyous scenes as supporters scented another championship.
City’s four goals took their total in the Premier League to 100 and a staggering 154 in all competitions.
And manager Manuel Pellegrini marked Toure’s landmark goal with a two arms raised clenched-fist salute as City won the race with Liverpool to reach 100 league goals – their rivals are on 99.
Pellegrini had no doubts City would win saying: “The team was not only very patient, but we played very well.
“I was absolutely sure if we continued to play the same way, we would find space to score a goal and that showed the personality and character of the side.
City’s manager added they can finally talk about winning the title with only one game to go. Pellegrini pointed out it is also important to win the title in style.
He said: “It is very important not only to win the title, but the way we have done it with our style of football.
“We are an attacking team and have scored many goals and always look to score more goals. That is as important as winning the title.”
City’s manager also praised Toure who reached 20 Premier League goals describing him as the complete midfield player.
David Silva returned for City while there was also a recall for Aleksandar Kolarov as they replaced the injured Sergio Aguero and Gael Clichy who dropped down to the bench.
There was a party mood at the Etihad Stadium as City fans knew they were tantalisingly close to winning a second Premier League title.
City were twice denied by Villa’s American keeper Brad Guzan in the opening 12 minutes as he beat out a fiercely struck angled drive from Kolarov and then kept out an effort from Yaya Toure with his outstretched leg.
It increasingly became a frustrating night for City who struggled to make inroads against Villa’s massed defensive ranks.
City were caught on the break as Andreas Weimann raced away pursued by Pablo Zabaleta only to pull his shot disappointingly wide when well placed when he could have advanced further.
Samir Nasri had a great chance to give City the lead in the second minute of stoppage time but somehow contrived to shoot wide from four yards as the frustration increased.
Guzan pulled off another good save early in the second half to beat away a 30-yard free kick from Kolarov which was heading for the top corner. It was only their second on target goal attempt in the opening hour of the match.
City needed new attacking ideas and Pellegrini turned to Stevan Jovetic who replaced James Milner.
The breakthrough came midway through the second period when Silva and Zabaleta combined with the full back squaring the ball for Dzeko to sweep home from six yards through the legs of Guzan for his 25th goal of the season.
The relief was palpable because nerves had become increasingly frayed with the game locked in stalemate with almost three quarter of the game completed.
Dzeko soon struck again with a tap in after Guzan parried a shot from Nasri following another excellent cross from Zabaleta.
There might still have been a nervy finish had Weimann scored with seven minutes left when his header hit the underside of the bar with Villa claiming the ball had crossed the line.
City put the game to bed when Jovetic fired home their third goal from outside the penalty area following a cut back from Toure.
And Toure finished the game in style with their fourth goal in stoppage time to bring up a century of league goals. The Ivory Coast international broke from half way before rifling home an unstoppable shot for his 20th league goal and 24th in all competitions.