Two goals from Andy Cole topped and tailed Manchester City's 5-2 win over Charlton at The Valley here Sunday.
Charlton's fifth straight loss in the league was not the way manager Alan Curbishley would have wanted to mark his 700th game in charge of the South London club.
Cole put Stuart Pearce's side ahead in the 25th minute only for Marcus Bent to draw Charlton level in the 36th minute. But less than 60 seconds later City were ahead again through Trevor Sinclair.
Joey Barton scored from the rebound after seeing his 69th minute penalty-kick saved by recalled Charlton keeper Dean Kiely only for Jay Bothroyd to give the Addicks fresh hope four minutes later when he beat David James from distance.
But further goals from Darius Vassell and Cole sealed the match for City as Charlton stayed in 12th place. Pearce was full of praise for Barton who was playing just days after his younger brother Michael was jailed for a vicious racist murder in Liverpool.
"It has been a tough week for Joey and you wouldn't wish the subject matter of it on your worst enemy," said Pearce.
"Joey has been in a few scrapes himself but since the summer he's been moving in the right direction. He's a popular lad at the club, with the fans and in the dressing room as well. And he's probably become more popular since holding his hand up to the players after falling from grace at the start of the season (when he was involved in a fight on a pre-season trip to Thailand).
"He has been absolutely superb, one of the first into training and one of the last away. And he's got some great role models in Andy Cole and other senior players like Claudio Reyna," said Pearce.
Curbishley was despondent at the defeat. "That hurt me, and I hope it hurt the players. We play Sunderland here next week and they must be desperate. Having looked at that their manager Mick McCarthy will think they've got a big chance," said the coach.
Pearce made five changes in a bid to revive City after watching the team collect just a point from its last three matches.
Vassell, a constant threat, helped put his side ahead when he controlled a long clearance on the edge of the box and as he drew defenders towards him, Cole took the ball and neatly finished past Kiely.
But Charlton was level from a seemingly unpromising sistuation when Bent, holding off the defense, latched onto Luke Young's through ball with a first-time volley on the bounce from the edge of the box. However, before Charlton fans could finish celebrating the goal City was ahead again. Cole relased Sinclair down the right, and from an acute angle the midfielder slammed the ball low past Kiely.
City extended its lead when referee Phil Dowd awarded a penalty after seeing Hermann Hreidarsson tug Vassell. Barton's kick was saved by Kiely but the he made no mistake with the follow-up.
Charlton rallied, through Bothroyd's free kick but as the Addicks pressed for the equalizer, City scored on the counter when Vassell broke the offside trap and slotted the ball under Kiely before Cole scored in similar fashion six minutes from time.