Manchester City 3-0 Stoke: Sergio Aguero double & Adam Johnson strike ensures hosts will be top at Christmas
Roberto Mancini's side maintained their unbeaten run at home after not losing at the Etihad Stadium once in 2011 with another routine victory inspired by a certain Argentine
By Ryan Benson
Manchester City have ensured they will remain top of the Premier League at Christmas after a routine 3-0 win at home to Stoke City on Wednesday.
The hosts dominated for the majority of the match and took the lead just before the half-hour mark, Sergio Aguero tapping in Yaya Toure’s pass and Adam Johnson got their second soon after with a great finish from outside the area.
Aguero wrapped the victory and the three points up 10 minutes after half time as the Argentine was left with a simple finish after good work from Samir Nasri in what was a simple win for the hosts.
Roberto Mancini made two changes from the side that beat Arsenal 1-0 at the weekend, bringing Gael Clichy back into the line-up at the expense of Pablo Zabaleta after serving out his suspension, while Johnson earned his fifth start of the season.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis changed four players from their win at Wolves, with Glenn Whelan being replaced by Wilson Palacios, Cameron Jerome and Kenwyne Jones coming in for Matthew Etherington and Peter Crouch, while Matthew Upson starts in place of the suspended Ryan Shawcross.
The first real chance of the match didn’t come until the 14th minute after a fairly even opening, but Johnson’s left-footed strike crashed against the far post as a direct result of cutting inside from the right-wing.
Christmas No.1 | Adam Johnson doubled Man City's lead in the first half
Samir Nasri was the next to go close a few minutes later as the Frenchman played a one-two with David Silva before thrashing wide of the right post.
The visitors managed a strong start to the match, standing up well to City’s attacking flair, however the longer the half went on, the more the hosts started to take control with their midfield getting in shot-after-shot, but the majority of them were blocked.
However, City eventually made their dominance tell as they took the lead with 30 minutes gone. After receiving a clever pass from Silva, Toure played the ball across the goal, and although Thomas Sorensen got a hand to it, Aguero was still able to tap the ball over the line for his 12th Premier League goal.
Less than seven minutes later, City got their second of the evening and it was quite a strike as Toure’s pressure just outside the Stoke box meant the ball fell to Johnson, and the former Middlesbrough man struck from 25 yards, finding the bottom corner emphatically.
Pulis’ men managed a decent start, however as soon as City grabbed their first, the signs were ominous and Stoke struggled to get the ball out of their own half and their inferiority continued until halftime.
The second period started in much the same way as the first ended, with City in control and Aguero was doing his best to double his tally, first trying his luck from just outside the area, then shooting from an angle after a brilliant solo-run, but Stoke were managing to keep the score down.
But that didn’t last long, as Aguero eventually got his second of the night in the 53rd minute as the Argentine tapped in Nasri’s low cross and the Frenchman was well picked out by Gareth Barry.
Aguero and City continued to pile on the pressure, with the former Atletico Madrid man going close once again less than a minute-and-a-half later, but Roberto Mancini’s team were cruising.
Just shy of the hour-mark, Aguero should have got his hat-trick, poking the ball past the goalkeeper, but he couldn’t get enough on it or get in on target when one-on-one.
After effectively securing the three points, City had Stoke exactly where they wanted them as the midfield and defence stopped attacks well as the visitors approached the penalty area.
Barry forced Sorensen into a good reaction-save with 20 minutes to go as Aguero chipped the ball over the defence for the England midfielder, but his half-volley could only result in a corner.
As the mach edged towards the final moments, the tempo slowed as City saw the game out with a few more shots and made sure they would be top of the league for Christmas.
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