A two-goal sucker punch moments before halftime helped Manchester City beat Southampton 4-1 on Saturday and keep the pressure on at the top of the Premier League table, as Jay Rodriguez's World Cup hopes were hit by a knee injury.
A Rickie Lambert penalty cancelled out Yaya Toure's early goal from the spot, but late strikes to Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko meant the 2011-12 champions went into the break with a two-goal lead, an advantage they extended through Stevan Jovetic with nine minutes left.
City moved to second place with 70 points, one behind Liverpool who play West Ham United on Sunday.
Chelsea, with 69 points, can move past them both if they beat Stoke City later on Saturday, although City currently have a match in hand on both their fellow title chasers.
The result was harsh on eighth-placed Southampton who were threatening going forward before they conceded the two quick goals after leading scorer Rodriguez fell awkwardly on his right leg, forcing him to leave the pitch on a stretcher and putting his outside hopes of making England manager Roy Hodgson's World Cup 23-man squad in doubt.