City keep up the pace with rivals United with a comfortable win over the Potters who struggled to create any chances worthy of noteMANCHESTER -- Manchester City started the New Year in perfect fashion as it strolled past a resolute Stoke side with a comfortable 3-0 victory.
The visitors were able to frustrate their hosts for the majority of the first half but had a little bit of luck to stay level, however that luck ran out in the 43rd minute as Pablo Zabaleta opened the scoring after Asmir Begovic cleared a low cross into his path. And Edin Dzeko doubled the home side’s lead at the start of the second half with a simple tap in after Begovic had failed to deal with Aguero’s low shot. The win was secured in the 74th minute as Sergio Aguero fired home a controversial penalty after David Silva had been tripped by Steven N’Zonzi.
Roberto Mancini gave Joleon Lescott his first start for a month alongside Vincent Kompany at the heart of the City defence and the Italian’s only other change saw James Milner replace the suspended Samir Nasri. Stoke made four changes to the side that drew with Southampton as Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron, Charlie Adam and Cameron Jerome were all recalled to the starting lineup with Matthew Upson, Ryan Shotton, Matthew Etherington and Michael Kightly all dropping to the bench.
The hosts dominated possession throughout the opening half and could have been further ahead than they were at the break after they wasted some excellent opportunities. The main culprit was Sergio Aguero who had chances to score before the deadlock was finally broken in the 43rd minute.
The Argentine’s first sight of goal came from a beautiful chipped through ball from Gareth Barry, he controlled the ball well but lashed his shot over the bar much to the relief of Asmir Begovic. His other chance of the half came nine minutes later when he met a Barry cross at the front post but his header crashed against the post.
It was another Argentine who got the goal City had been looking for in the closing minutes of the half as Zabaleta grabbed his second goal of the season. He released Milner inside the penalty area, his low cross was pushed out by Begovic’s foot only as far as Zabaleta and he fired through a crowd to open the scoring.
The second half began in the same way the first had finished with the hosts on top, but City didn’t have to wait long before its second goal as Dzeko applied the finishing touch following an Aguero shot. Yaya Toure released the Argentine inside the area, he fired low at Begovic but the keeper failed to hold onto the ball and his compatriot Dzeko tapped in from two yards.
The victory was secured in the 73rd minute as Silva was brought down by N’Zonzi on the edge of the penalty area, although it looked to be outside the box a penalty was awarded and Aguero made no mistake from the spot as he fired under the dive of Begovic.