Rodri and Julian Alvarez struck as Manchester City closed out a remarkable year with a routine 2-0 win over Premier League bottom side Sheffield United.
Champions League final match-winner Rodri put City on course for a comfortable win at the Etihad Stadium with a fine strike after 14 minutes and Alvarez finished the job in the second half.
After a tricky spell earlier in December, City have now ended 2023 – a year which brought five trophies including English, European and world titles – looking more like their old dominant selves.
FULL-TIME | Ending the year with +3!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 30, 2023
It was the first time they had secured back-to-back Premier League wins since the first week of November and ended a run of eight games without a clean sheet.
The game also saw Kevin De Bruyne back in a matchday squad for the first time since August.
Jack Grealish retained his place in the City side despite a difficult few days following a burglary at his home and played 52 minutes before being withdrawn.
Manager Pep Guardiola made two changes to his starting line-up with Josko Gvardiol replacing the injured John Stones and Mateo Kovacic coming in for Matheus Nunes.
De Bruyne did not see any action but earned one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon when he warmed up in the second half.
In truth, City did not need the Belgium international as they comfortably outplayed the struggling Blades.
The hosts soon settled into their usual rhythm, controlling possession and patiently waiting for openings to arise.
It seemed just a matter of time before they broke through and the moment arrived in 14th minute as Rodri seized possession after a challenge on Phil Foden.
The Spaniard confidently drove forward and drove a low shot past Wes Foderingham from 18 yards.
Bernardo Silva shot wide after being played in by Foden and Grealish tested Foderingham from a tight angle.
The visitors missed James McAtee, who was unable to face his parent club, and offered little in attack until a brief flurry just before the break.
William Osula got behind the defence to meet a Jayden Bogle cross but his first-time shot was blocked by Manuel Akanji. Osula had another chance from the resulting corner but his header was saved by Ederson and Bogle also had an effort easily claimed by the City goalkeeper.
Back at the other end Rodri shot over and Foden almost got round Foderingham early in the second half but the keeper just managed to claw the ball away.
Foden had better luck when he created the second goal for Alvarez on the hour, breaking into the area from an Oscar Bobb pass and squaring for the Argentina forward to slide in.
Alvarez almost snatched another when Foderingham smashed a clearance straight at him but it ricocheted over.