Manchester City captain Fernandinho admits winning the Premier League title this season would be extra sweet.
The veteran Brazilian midfielder is set to leave the Etihad Stadium this summer after nine years with the club.
City have been locked in a tight title race with Liverpool this season but events over the weekend have put them firmly in control of their destiny.
The champions’ 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle, coupled with the Reds’ failure to beat Tottenham, has given City a three-point advantage at the top of the Premier League with three games to play.
It was a strong response to last week’s crushing loss at Real Madrid and Fernandinho now has his sights on a fifth league winner’s medal and a glorious farewell.
The 37-year-old said: “Every title is sweet. It’s going to be one more… with a little more sugar.
“It was a great response but at the same time we are focusing on ourselves and know the title is in our hands.
“It doesn’t matter what they do over there, we have to keep going through all the hard games.
“This is what we are trying to do, focus on ourselves, but I thought it was a great response after defeat in Madrid, especially for our fans and ourselves because when you lose a match like this, the confidence can go a little bit down.
“But not just the result, the performance overall was really good and we are really happy about that.”
Newcastle did create some moments of alarm for City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday but, after finding their stride, the hosts cruised to victory.
Raheem Sterling headed them ahead before Aymeric Laporte added a second before the break. Rodri put the result beyond doubt just after the hour and late goals from Phil Foden and Sterling made the scoreline a rout.
The only downside for City – who are reportedly close to announcing the signing of Erling Haaland – was the loss of Ruben Dias at half-time with injury.
The Portuguese has joined fellow defenders John Stones and Kyle Walker on the sidelines and none of the trio are expected to play again this season.
“We went on the pitch and tried to score goals,” said Fernandinho, who played as a makeshift centre-back after Dias’ departure.
“Playing against them is really hard because they are a really tall team. They are really strong and good at set-pieces. We conceded a goal but it was offside.
“Even after that we kept playing in the same way and created chances and in the second half we killed the game.
“We have some injury issues now but – at the end of the season – that is normal.”
The result meant back-to-back defeats for Newcastle after last week’s loss to Liverpool but, after winning the four games prior to that, relegation fears have long since dissipated.
Right-back Kieran Trippier, who returned as a second-half substitute after almost three months out injured, told NUTV: “We always knew it was going to be a tough game but we’ve taken huge steps in the past few months.
“You need to test yourselves against the best and Man City certainly are the best.
“We had chances to put the ball in the back of the net and coming to these places you have to be clinical.
“But overall I’m proud of the team from where we were in January. Now we have two big games to put things right.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe