Manchester: Yaya Toure scored a hat trick on Saturday as Manchester City brushed aside last-place Fulham 5-0 to keep pace in the Premier League title race.
Toure converted two penalties in the 26th and 54th minute, both times after fouls by Fernando Amorebieta who was sent off after the second. City continued to push forward and Toure curled in his third goal in the 66th before being taken off to a standing ovation. Fernandinho fired in the fourth in the 84th and Martin Demichelis completed the rout four minutes later as the hosts climbed above Arsenal into third place. (Also read: Chelsea humiliate Arsenal F.C. | Wenger's 1000th party ruined, takes full responsibility)
City trails leader Chelsea by six points, but has three games in hand. Fulham remains last on 24 points, but is only four points from safety as its closest relegation rivals also lost. (Other news: Liverpool thrash Cardiff 6-3)
Toure's goals made him the third City player to reach 20 goals for the season after Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo, leaving Edin Dzeko, who missed the game through illness, behind on 18.
City rarely got into top gear in the first period, but had two other penalty appeals turned away in the opening 12 minutes. But City finally got their penalty after Negredo chased a long ball from James Milner and was kicked in the backside by Amorebieta. Toure made no mistake as he sent the keeper the wrong way after Amorebieta was booked.
Fulham looked for a quick response but Sascha Riether spurned a good chance as he headed over from Kieran Richardson's cross.
City's next breakthrough came eight minutes into the second half as Milner cleverly slipped Silva through on goal and Amorebieta crudely brought the Spaniard down.
Toure's second spot-kick proved a replica of his first and there was simply no way back for Fulham. The visitors could do little about Toure's hat-trick goal after Samir Nasri took a short free kick. The Ivorian took aim from about 25 yards out sent a wonderful curling effort into the tiny gap between the diving Stockdale and the post.
The fourth came six minutes from time as a well-worked corner found its way to Fernandinho and the Brazilian smashed home from inside the box. The pressure continued and Milner's shot was saved before Demichelis tapped in a rebound after Stockdale blocked from substitute Stevan Jovetic.
Negredo, without a goal since January, could have scored in injury time but missed from close range.