Manchester: Manchester City moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League as a comfortable, if eventful, 3-0 victory over Liverpool at Eastlands maintained their incredible home form.
First half goals from Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure were followed by the 72nd minute dismissal of City midfielder Gareth Barry for a second bookable offence.
But within 60 seconds, James Milner had extended City's lead from the penalty spot against a Liverpool side that was without Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, his club having decided before kick-off not to appeal the eight-match suspension handed to him for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
After 10 minutes, City took the lead at a home stadium that had been virtually impregnable in 2011, the team having collected 52 points out of an available 54 in home league games during the calendar year.
Milner robbed the ball from Dirk Kuyt on the left and found David Silva whose touch opened the path for Aguero to unleash a 20-yard shot which should have presented the Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina with no problem, only for the Spaniard to allow the ball under his body and into the goal.
A difficult task was rendered virtually impossible after 33 minutes when City doubled their lead.
Reina made amends for his earlier error when he spectacularly tipped a Vincent Kompany header over his crossbar from a Milner corner.
However, from the resulting Silva flag kick, Liverpool's marking was found wanting and Yaya Toure was allowed the space to guide an unstoppable header into the goal via the underside of the bar.
Events might have unfolded very differently had the visitors taken the game's first real chance after just seven minutes when Jordan Henderson played a clinical through ball for Stewart Downing only for the winger to be denied by Joe Hart's sprawling body.
But, as in that instance, Liverpool's best opportunities would be limited to the counter-attack and, even before the goal, Reina had been forced to save at the foot of his post from Edin Dezko's shot on the turn.
After his error for the opening goal, Reina was soon tested again when Aguero's intelligent chip had the goalkeeper back-pedalling to make a solid catch and, in the 22nd minute, Dzeko maintained the pressure with a shot which deflected off Glen Johnson and passed inches wide, with Reina wrong-footed.
Liverpool finally found their feet around the midway point of the clash with Charlie Adam's 20-yard free-kick beating the City wall and forcing Hart into a diving save and, moments later, Henderson chanced his arm with a ferocious 25-yard drive which flew just past Hart's right-hand post.
Liverpool's general attacking play improved after Kenny Dalglish introduced Steven Gerrard and former City forward Craig Bellamy as 57th minute substitutes but Bellamy's inaccurate 65th minute shot from outside the area was the first attempt on goal in the period.
Liverpool were handed brief hope when Barry brought down Daniel Agger and, after a first half caution for fouling Jay Spearing, was sent off.
However, within a minute, City were further in front when Martin Skrtel checked Yaya Toure in the Liverpool area, conceding a penalty which Milner converted emphatically.