Match Report: Manchester City 3-0 Stoke City
Manchester City 3 (Zabaleta 43, Dzeko, 56, Aguero, pen, 74)
Stoke City 0
STOKE City were well beaten at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon as goals from Pablo Zabaleta, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero helped league champions Manchester City coast to a 3-0 win.
The result ended Stoke's ten-game unbeaten league run but they could have few complaints as they were outclassed by a Manchester City side who have only lost one home league game in the last two seasons.
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Tony Pulis was able to strengthen his defence as Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron returned after suspension, but Stoke never looked like getting anything from the game once Zabaleta fired the champions in front two minutes before the break.
Stoke began in a 4-5-1 formation with Cameron at right back and Andy Wilkinson on the left of centre halves Shawcross and Robert Huth.
Steven Nzonzi, Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam started in central midfield with Jon Walters, wide right, and Cameron Jerome, wide left, trying to get up in support of lone striker Kenwyne Jones.
Manchester City threatened after just one minute as Asmir Begovic was forced into a smart save from Aguero after James Milner got free down the right.
David Silva headed over Milner's free kick on 19 minutes and Begovic came to Stoke's rescue three minutes later with a flying save to push away Aguero's powerful strike from the edge of the area.
Wilkinson's sliding challenge denied Aguero six yards from goal……and the striker came even closer moments later as his downward header crashed against the post.
However, the home side got the breakthrough they had threatened when Milner got free inside the area and pulled the ball across goal. Begovic blocked the cross with his boot at the near post, but the ball rebounded to Zabaleta who fired past the stranded keeper from close range.
Manchester City 1 Stoke City 0
Stoke's difficult task became a mountainous one on 56 minutes after they switched off from a quick free kick.
Aguero scampered into his area and, although his low shot was palmed away by Begovic, the ball rolled to Dzeko who had a simple tap in.
Stoke needed a goal quickly, and almost got one when Glenn Whelan's corner was flicked on by Jerome. The ball dropped to Walters at the back post, but he didn't have much time to react and could only put a half-volley over the bar.
Stoke had reason to feel aggrieved on 73 minutes when Aguero was brought down by Nzonzi, prompting referee Michael Oliver to point to the spot.
There was no doubt Nzonzi tripped the Manchester City striker, but replays showed the foul was outside the area.
Aguero took advantage as he scored from the penalty, although Begovic almost saved as he got a hand to the ball low to his left.
The game was gone by the time Stoke came closest to scoring, on 88 minutes.
Whelan sent a 30-yard strike thundering goalwards, but England keeper Joe Hart flung himself low to his left to touch the ball on to the post.
Manchester City: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Lescott, Clichy, Milner, Barry, Silva (Sinclair, 82), Y Toure, Dzeko (Razak, 90), Aguero (Tevez, 77).
Subs: Pantilimon, K Toure, Nastasic, Garcia.
Stoke City: Begovic, Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson, Walters, Whelan, Adam (Whitehead, 68) Nzonzi, Jerome, Jones (Etherington, 50).
Subs: Sorensen, Upson, Shotton, Kightly, Crouch.
Referee: Michael Oliver