STOKE — Manchester City rallied to beat Stoke City 4-1 at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday with a scintillating second half display to grab their first win in five.
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The Citizens took the lead through Sergio Aguero but Peter Crouch equalized soon after as the teams went in level at the break after a first half which Stoke dominated. However after the break City stepped things up a gear after their auspicious start as James Milner headed home, then Sergio Aguero tucked home a penalty kick to make it 3-1. Late on a stunning strike by Samir Nasri finished things off as Stoke folded under relentless pressure from City.
With the win — Man City have never previously won in the PL at the Britannia in six attempts — City remain in second, seven points behind Chelsea in the title race, while Stoke are in 10th on 33 points.
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Stoke pinned back Man City early on as Victor Moses’ routine shot was spooned wide by Joe Hart and from the resulting corner Crouch’s header was clearly blocked on the line by Milner, but referee Lee Mason waved play on when it looked to be a blatant penalty kick.
City continued to look sluggish as the first half wore on as Stoke seemed to have gone ahead when Moses’ shot was palmed away by Hart straight to Crouch who tucked home. But the linesman’s flag was correctly up for offside. No goal.
The Potters continued to push hard for the opener as Steven Nzonzi first saw a shot blocked by Hart and Moses lashed the follow up just wide. Despite being second best City then took the lead as a Stoke corner was cleared to the halfway line where Aguero picked up the ball, shrugged of a challenge and then ran 40-yards before smashing the ball into the far corner. 1-0 to the Citizens, totally against the run of play.
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Soon after Stoke were deservedly level as Marko Arnautovic’s stunning cross to the back post was nodded home by Crouch. 1-1. Before the break the Citizens should have gone 2-1 up as Pablo Zabaleta crossed for Fernando but the Brazilian clipped his shot harmlessly wide.
Then on the stroke of half time Aguero was involved in a real moment of controversy as David Silva’s cross was knocked over the line by City’s Argentine striker. The goal was originally awarded but the referee then booked Aguero for handball, but only after consulting his linesman who had spotted the Argentine international knock it into the net with his hand.
Man City enjoyed a better start to the second half as Kolarov surged into the box but his shot was saved down low by Asmir Begovic and Stoke managed to clear. In the 55th minute the Potters weren’t as lucky as Nasri clipped in a perfect cross which Milner guided into the far corner. 2-1 to Man City.
Stoke didn’t give up hope of grabbing an equalizer as Arnautovic and Geoff Cameron whipped in some terrific deliveries from the right but City dealt with the danger. But City wrapped up the game when Silva was brought down by Cameron in the box and Aguero slotted home the penalty (his 21st goal of the season). 3-1 to the Citizens.
Soon after it was 4-1 as Nasri surged forward and unleashed a stunning strike into the bottom corner to pile on the misery for the Potters. The 4-1 scorline was a little flattering, but City rallied impressively after a shaky start.
Stoke: Begovic, Cameron, Wollscheid, Muniesa, Bardsley, Nzonzi (Shenton, 90+2′), Whelan (Adam, 85′), Arnautovic, Diouf, Moses (Sidwell, 80′), Crouch
Goal: Crouch (38′)
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Fernando, Milner, Silva (Lampard, 80′), Nasri (Jesus Navas, 86′), Aguero (Dzeko, 73′)
Goals: Aguero (33′, 70′), Milner (55′), Nasri (76′)