Gabriel Jesus scored twice as Manchester City eased past 10-man Wolves to cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table to four points.
City did not manage a repeat of the scoring feats that had seen them hit 16 goals against Rotherham and Burton in their previous two games, but the outcome was rarely in doubt despite the relatively modest winning margin.
Jesus opened the scoring after 10 minutes when Leroy Sane ran on to a peach of a pass by Aymeric Laporte and squared for the Brazilian to slide home.
A tough task for Wolves got even harder when Willy Boly was dismissed nine minutes later, with the French defender shown a straight red card for a dangerous jumping challenge on Bernardo Silva.
City initially failed to take advantage of their extra man and were given a scare when Jonny narrowly failed to turn in Diogo Jota’s cross on a rare foray forward by the visitors.
That woke them from their slumbers and moments later they extended their lead from the spot.
Ryan Bennett sent Raheem Sterling tumbling as he burst into the box and Jesus stepped up to take his personal tally to seven in City’s past three matches and put his side in complete control by half-time.
The only question left at the break was how many more City would score. Pep Guardiola’s side had got five goals in the second half against Burton in the Carabao Cup and four against Rotherham in the FA Cup but had to settle for one this time.
Substitute Kevin de Bruyne whipped in a cross from a short corner routine, and Connor Coady could only deflect it into his own net to complete a miserable night for the visitors.
City just shy of record
City ended the night pushing for more goals but ended the evening one short of 100 in all competitions for the season.
It meant they missed out on equalling the record they set themselves in 2013-14 for being the fastest team to that landmark in the Premier League era but, other than their league position, that is just about the only thing they can be disappointed about at the moment.
They are the highest scorers in the Premier League with 59, and this was another message to Liverpool – who they beat here at the start of the year – that the title race is very much on.
Tuesday will mark a month since City last topped the table, and will also see Liverpool overhaul them as the team to have spent the longest at the summit this season – with the Reds leading the way with 75 days to City’s 74.
And, on the evidence of this latest relentless attacking display, Guardiola’s side have the firepower to keep the pressure on the leaders.
Wolves forced into damage limitation
The first points that City dropped this season came in an enthralling 1-1 draw at Molineux in August, and Nuno Espirito Santo has shown that was no fluke with his side’s subsequent results against Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool.
On this occasion, however, Wolves were unable to lay a finger on City, especially once Boly had been dismissed – and they struggled to get a touch on the ball too.
They played only 271 passes to 870 by the defending champions, and very few of them were in the City half.
A fourth-minute header by the French defender that looped harmlessly wide was Wolves’ sole effort at goal in the 90 minutes, and they only managed five touches in the City box.
Wolves continued to work hard, and restrict City’s chances, but it was clear this was an exercise in damage limitation and they will have to wait a little longer for their first points of the new year.
Man of the match – Gabriel Jesus
Wolves are at home to Leicester on Saturday (12:30 GMT KO). Manchester City travel to face Huddersfield Town on Sunday (13:30 GMT) in the first game since the Terriers parted company with manager David Wagner.