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January 1, 2013
• Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Referee: M. Oliver
• Attendance: 47192
P. Zabaleta 43'
E. Džeko 56'
S. Agüero 74'
Stoke slip to ninth after their first defeat in 11 league games, but they'll surely bounce back from that performance. I've been Tom J Doyle, and thanks for joining us for this game. Stick with Goal.com for more match reaction, reports, ratings, and news from all the other games around the Premier League. Happy new year!
So, City stay seven points behind league leaders Manchester United, but have potentially lost Aguero to a hamstring injury. Will that affect their dealings in the January transfer window? Edin Dzeko may have something to say against any new forward signings as he scored again to keep himself in contention for a starting XI role.
That's it! Manchester City take all three points in a routine 3-0 victory over Stoke. The hosts were impressive in attack, particularly Sergio Aguero who netted from the spot and bamboozled the visiting defenders. In truth the Potters offered next to nothing going forward, but the champions showed great determination to close out the game in expert fashion.
90' + 2'
90' + 2'
Nzonzi is down injured with seconds left to play after being body-checked by Barry. Dzeko meanwhile went off to a great reception from the home crowd, and is really staking a claim for a regular starting XI - especially given Aguero's potential injury.
We'll have two minutes of injury time here - and Milner almost finds Scott Sinclair at the back post with a fine cross from the right. Milner has worked hard today, and has turned in a good performance.
Great save from Hart! He's had barely anything to do, but the City keeper is at full stretch to tip Glenn Whelan's ferocious 30-yard drive onto his left-hand post. Great concentration from the 25-year-old, as it's been a very quiet day for him.
With United 3-0 up at Wigan, City will remain seven points behind in the table - but every win will keep the pressure up on Sir Alex Ferguson's men.
Shawcross clatters Tevez from behind here - the defender is a little lucky to escape a caution, but the free kick comes to nothing.
Stoke seem quite content to just limit the damage now - this game's over, and they still have a decent defensive record to protect.
There's 12 minutes left to play here, and with Tevez hungry for goals, Stoke would do well to prevent this one from becoming a rout. Don't forget last season's title was decided on goal difference either, so strong finishes to games like these can make a difference.
Oh dear - a minute after scoring from the spot, Sergio Aguero looks like he's pulled his hamstring. The striker pulled up while dribbling at Stoke's goal, and has been replaced by compatriot Carlos Tevez. He will be a big miss for the champions if he's out for any length of time.
Penalty Goal Sergio Agüero
AGUERO SCORES!!! The Argentine steps up and puts the spot kick to Begovic's left - the keeper guesses correctly and really should save it, but he dives over it and deflects it into the net. That's surely game over.
Yellow Card Steven N'Zonzi
PENALTY TO CITY!!! Nzonzi pushes Silva in the back, but it's a poor decision as the offence clearly occurs outside the Stoke penalty area. Still, it's a great chance for three...
Not too much has happened since Walters' chance, and you've got to feel Stoke have to go for broke to get anything here. Then again, they could probably do without losing 4- or 5-0.
City are still getting forward but their play is now more considered as they have the two-goal cushion to relax on. It's up to Stoke to make the decisive moves now.
It's understandable why Tony Pulis wanted his side to keep things tight early on, and they look much more combative now - its just a shame they've left it until they are two goals down with 25 minutes left to play to start playing football.
Big chance for Walters! A corner is flicked on at the near post and the ball find the striker at the back post, but he can only sky the effort high over the bar from six yards. He didn't have much time to react, but top finishers score those chances.
Now then, Stoke are attacking and want a penalty for a handball after Kompany blocks a shot, but the referee waves the appeals away. The away side are pushing forward now, but it's a big ask to get back into this one now.
Yellow Card Joleon Lescott
Joe Hart is called into action, punching away Etherington's inswinging free kick for a corner. Not totally convincing from the keeper, but it's the first thing he's had to do all day.
Dzeko was booked for taking off his shirt to reveal a happy new year message for the City fans there. No new year cheer from the officials, but rules are rules - however idiotic.
Yellow Card Edin Dzeko
Goal Edin Dzeko
DZEKO MAKES IT TWO!!! The Bosnia striker taps into the net from close range after Begovic can't hold on to Aguero's shot following a quick free kick. Stoke have gone to sleep twice in this game, and have paid the price against the champions.
Huth makes another timely block to deny Silva on the edge of the six-yard box - apart from his yellow card, he's been in inspired form for the away side.
Another corner for City, and they're not settling for 1-0 at this point. Mancini will want a couple more so that his side can relax after a hectic festive fixture schedule, and he won't want any late scares.
Well, that's an intriguing change from Pulis, who takes off Jones for Matthew Etherington much to the striker's frustration. He didn't appear to be injured, and to be fair, Pulis' tactics haven't given him a lot to work with today.
Dzeko goes close with a great volley! Yaya Toure flights a great long ball all the way from his own half through to the striker, who lashes the bouncing ball just over from 20 yards. Was that route one football from City? Whatever it was, it was almost a beautiful goal.
Yellow Card Robert Huth
City start the half as they did the first, with Aguero flying forward before being cynically brought down by Robert Huth 30 yards out. The centre-back gets a deserved booking, and will have to be careful now.
We're underway again here, and with Manchester United going 2-0 up at Wigan, a win is even more important for the hosts now to stay seven points behind their rivals.
It's be interesting to see what Tony Pulis does from here. He surely has to change things up to at least try and get a shot or two on goal, but Roberto Mancini will be licking his lips at the prospect of breaking on the counter against the Potters with the attacking talent at his disposal.
That's the whistle, and Manchester City hold perhaps one the most deserved 1-0 leads in the history of football. Stoke have defended well but have offered literally no attacking threat, while the hosts have been slick and confident in forward positions.
One minute of injury time to be played, and Tony Pulis will be livid at the way in which his side gifted City the lead moments ago after defending so well for the rest of the half.
Goal Pablo Zabaleta
ZABALETA SCORES!!! It's a fortunate goal for the hosts but no more than they deserve for their hard work so far. It's good work again from Milner on the right, and Begovic can only push his low cross out to the defender, who makes no mistake with the finish through a crowd. Game on!
Milner fizzes in a low cross from the right which is well cut out yet again by the visitors. Can they hold on till half time?
Toure tries to be too clever and drill it under the wall, and the chance is gone. Surely it would have been better to let the likes of Silva or Aguero lift the ball over the wall there?
Dzeko wins a free kick right on the edge of the Stoke penalty area - now this is a huge chance for City...
Begovic is becoming a marked man amongst the City support, as the keeper is taking a long, long time over every goal kick. Don't be surprised if the keeper earns a booking for time-wasting at some point in the game.
The home crowd are getting more nervous now, their frustrations audible - and Manchester United have just gone 1-0 up at Wigan. If the scores stay the same, Sir Alex Ferguson's side would go nine points clear at the top.
Top stop from Andy Wilkinson - and then Aguero hits the post! The Stoke defender does brilliantly to reach Milner's cross first with Silva ready to tap in from a couple of yards. Barry then collects and drifts in a great ball from the left which the striker can only head against the post. They're getting closer...
Jones has barely had a touch for the visitors - to say he's had no service is an understatement. But while the game stays level, Stoke will be hoping for a long throw or an inviting set piece to trouble the hosts,
Dzeko blasts wide from the right with plenty of team-mates in support, much to the frustration of Mancini on the sidelines. Poor from the striker there, and he'll have to do better than that to keep his place in the side.
It's all gone a little quiet as City are yet to find the breakthrough. Stoke have offered nothing in terms of an attacking threat, but they'll bide their time for now.
Great stop from Begovic! Aguero does brilliantly to twist away from Shawcross outside the area, and unleashes a high drive at the Stoke net which the keeper does well to get up to and palm away. Lovely ball again from Barry, who is looking classy in the centre under no pressure.
Vincent Kompany is breaking out the party tricks here, unleashing a delicious step-over before wasting the pass. Top stuff from the Belgium centre-back.
Ooh, Silva misses a free header! The pitch is full of tall, strong headers of the ball, but the diminutive Spain midfielder is free and can only head wide from 10 yards out. He should re4ally have done better.
Now then, Cameron Jerome fouls James Milner on the right wing, and City will have a chance from a set piece here...
Stoke are defending impressively here, picking up City's marauding forwards and marking space responsibly to deny the hosts. It's no wonder they have the best defensive record in the league.
Toure seems to forget his last effort on goal and blasts another effort at Begovic...which again flies high and wide. That'll do for Tony Pulis at the moment, as he'll want to frustrate the hosts into committing more men forward and making mistakes.
Joe Hart has touched the ball! He receives a back pass and then passes it out again. It's not interesting, but it's as much as the England goalkeeper has done all day.
It's all City at the moment, with the game resembling a training ground routine of 'attack vs. defence' as they win another corner which Begovic collects. It's still all square though, and Stoke will only grow in confidence with each passing minute.
What a chance for Aguero! Gareth Barry splits the Stoke defence with a superb high through-ball from midfield, and the forward takes it down on his chest before narrowly firing a half-volley over Asmir Begovic's bar. That was close.
Yaya Toure fancies his chances from 30 yards...but it's a terrible effort as his drive is still rising as it reaches the stands. A speculative one that, but the hosts are confident today.
City are searching for a way through here, with Silva and Aguero looking very sharp in advanced positions. Stoke haven't got in to this game yet, but at least they haven't conceded an early goal yet.
Now Ryan Shawcross has to make a good block after great work from David Silva and Gael Clichy on the left, with the England defender having to deflect the France left-back's cross out for another corner.
Chance for Aguero! It's a decent stop by Begovic as he deflects the Argentine's eight-yard drive wide of his left-hand post for a corner after a good break from the home side. A great start for Roberto Mancini's men.
Blue Moon rings out around the ground, and we're off! Can Stoke cause an upset here? They've got the defence to do so, but City have more than enough talent in attack to trouble them...
We're almost ready to go at the Etihad. With Manchester United seven points clear at the top, every game is now a must-win for City - but they'll face a tough test against Tony Pulis' Potters, who are unbeaten in 10 Premier League games.
The hosts meanwhile welcome Steven Nzonzi back to the starting line-up after successfully appealing his red card against Southampton, while Kenwyne Jones is tasked with leading the line against the champions.
So, Joleon Lescott gets a rare start for the home side in the centre of defence for the visitors, while super sub Edin Dzeko will get a chance to prove himself from the start once more after two early goals in the 4-3 win over Norwich.
Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson; Jerome, Nzonzi, Adam, Whelan, Walters; Jones. Subs: Sorensen, Upson, Shotton, Whitehead, Kightly, Etherington, Crouch.
The team news is in...Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Yaya Toure, Barry; Milner, Silva, Aguero; Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Nastasic, Sinclair, Garcia, Kolo Toure, Tevez, Razak.
Good afternoon and welcome to the Goal.com LIVE commentary of Manchester City - Stoke at the Etihad. I'm Tom J Doyle, and I'll be guiding you through the twists and turns of this intriguing tie between the Premier League Champions and the side with the meanest defence in the division. And to those of you who had a heavy News Years Eve, I apologise for mentioning twists and turns.
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