Manchester City wore down last-placed Hull to win 3-0 in the English Premier League, thanks to late goals by Yaya Toure and substitute Kelechi Iheanacho as well as an own-goal on Monday.
Toure converted a penalty kick in the 72nd minute after Raheem Sterling was tripped by Andrew Robertson as the England winger drove into the area.
Up until that point, City lacked inspiration going forward as Hull defended valiantly and in numbers, but more spaces opened up to allow the visitors a second goal.
Kevin De Bruyne played in David Silva, whose pinpoint cross was tapped home by Iheanacho at the far post in the 78th. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Sterling weaved his way into the area and sent in a cross that was deflected into his own net by Curtis Davies.
"In the first half, we forgot where the goal was," City manager Pep Guardiola said. "In the second half, our strikers saw the goal a bit more and after the first goal it was easy."
A third straight win continued City's recovery after a sticky period of results for Guardiola, lifting the team into second place ahead of Liverpool. Liverpool plays its game in hand against Stoke on Tuesday.
City is seven points behind Chelsea after 18 rounds of the 38-game season. Chelsea has won its last 12 games.
"There is always pressure for us because the top of the league is tough and the other teams at the top had won today," Guardiola said. "Every game we play is like a final."
City defender John Stones went off injured midway through the first half with a kick to the knee. Guardiola said he hoped the center back would be fit to play Liverpool on 31 December.
Toure has scored all 10 of his penalties for City and has three goals since returning to the team after being ostracized by Guardiola early in the season.
The former Ivory Coast midfielder could have a key part to play in City's title challenge this season now that fellow midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign with damaged knee ligaments.
Hull manager Mike Phelan rued Robertson's moment of madness in bringing down Sterling as the bottom side was looking compact in defense and giving up few chances. Only De Bruyne, with a low shot against the post, had come close to breaking the deadlock before Toure's penalty.
"The penalty was the major turning point," Phelan said. "Andrew Robertson is heartbroken over it because he knows he has suffered a harsh lesson there.
"Until then, we put everything together the best way we could. I thought we were very, very solid.
Updated Date: Dec 27, 2016 08:51:38 IST