Kevin De Bruyne fires home a penalty. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Raheem Sterling ended his goal drought as Manchester City moved into the top four in the Premier League with a comfortable victory over Fulham.

The 25-year-old had gone seven games without finding the net but kept his place in the line-up following City’s goalless draw with Porto in midweek and he rewarded his manager with the opening goal in the fifth minute, finishing confidently from Kevin De Bruyne’s beautifully weighted pass.

Sterling then repaid the favour for the Belgian as he was felled by Fulham skipper Joachin Andersen to win a penalty, with De Bruyne confidently stroking the spot-kick home for his second goal of the season, as City had the game all but sewn up in the 26th-minute.

Pep Guardiola’s side continued to dominate possession, but with a hectic festive schedule in mind the hosts didn’t play with the intensity required to record the kind of emphatic win they had the potential to.

City’s best chances of the second half fell to De Bruyne, who was denied by the crossbar and then Alphonse Areola when through one-on-one with the Fulham goalkeeper.

The victory sees City leapfrog a number of teams to move into fourth, level on points with fifth-placed Leicester City, while Fulham remain 17th, a point above the drop zone.

Marseille in the Champions League on Wednesday is next up for City, but with progression in the competition already assured Pep can afford to rest players ahead of the Manchester Derby on Saturday.