Man City thump Stoke

2011-12-22 08:42

Manchester - Manchester City will be top of the Premier League on Christmas Day for the first time in 82 years after two goals from Sergio Aguero and another from Adam Johnson allowed them to record a routine 3-0 victory over Stoke and complete a remarkable 2011 at their home ground.

The Premier League leaders have won 17 and drawn one of their 18 league games at Eastlands in the calendar year, a dominant record which Stoke never looked capable of challenging.

With former England forward Peter Crouch missing from the Stoke line-up after being sent to hospital on Tuesday for precautionary tests following complaints of headaches and dizziness, the visitors faced an uphill task and packed their midfield with five bodies.

It proved a futile gesture from Stoke manager Tony Pulis who swiftly saw the game degenerate into a training ground exercise with City in complete control and the visitors rarely breaking over the halfway line.

The only surprise was that City could not add to the two goals claimed by Aguero, his 14th of the season, and Johnson, starting a league game for the first time in over two months, in the first period.

In the 28th minute, the interminable City pressure culminated in David Silva playing through an intricate pass which allowed Yaya Toure to drill the ball low across the face of the six-yard area.

Defender Vincent Kompany almost made a telling near-post touch as Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen parried the ball on the goal-line, presenting Aguero with the simplest of tap-ins, albeit one from a suspiciously "offside" position.

There was no dispute over City's second goal, after 36 minutes, which owed much to Stoke's defensive incompetence.

Dean Whitehead stopped Silva in his tracks in the Stoke area but failed to find Jonathan Walters with his clearance, Johnson collecting the loose ball and depositing it into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal from 20 yards.

The goals had been coming, from the 15th minute when Yaya Toure found Johnson just inside the area and the England winger unleashed a superb shot which deflected off Marc Wilson and struck the stanchion.

Three minutes later, Samir Nasri played a tidy one-two with Sergio Aguero, darting into the area as he did so and placing a shot just wide.

And, before the halftime whistle, Johnson sent a long-range free-kick around the wall of Stoke defenders, forcing Sorensen into conceding a corner with a sharp dive low to the foot of his right-hand post.

Twice in the opening few minutes of the second half, Aguero threatened with shots that were well handled by Sorensen, the latter after he cut in impressively from the by-line.

But, after 54 minutes, the contest was well and truly over after Aguero notched his second goal of the evening, one created after Yaya Toure dispossessed Wilson Palacios in midfield.

Gareth Barry's accurate pass found Nasri inside the Stoke area and his cross picked out Aguero who had another routine task in guiding the ball into an empty net.

Aguero continued his one-man onslaught, forcing Sorensen into a save from 18 yards and then missing a glorious opening, steering the ball wide with just the goalkeeper to beat from a Yaya Toure through ball.

Wilson's tame 61st minute header forced City goalkeeper Joe Hart into his first action of the evening, although the effort presented no real danger, before an Aguero through ball found Gareth Barry for a near-post shot which Sorensen blocked well.

City substitute James Milner had City's final chance, deep in injury-time, with a curling shot which Sorensen dived well to smother while Stoke, in complete contrast, had failed to register a single attempt on target throughout the preceding 90 minutes.