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Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Manchester City brushes Stoke aside

Press Association

Pablo Zabaleta, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero struck as Manchester City claimed a 3-0 home win against Stoke City on Tuesday.

The Barclays Premier League champions were rarely troubled as they eased to a convincing victory at the Etihad Stadium after Zabaleta opened the scoring late in the first half.

Dzeko tapped in for a second just before the hour and the lively Aguero added a third from the penalty spot 16 minutes from time.

The only concern was that Aguero limped off before the end of what was also expected to be talisman Yaya Toure's last game before the African Nations Cup.

It was another painful trip to Eastlands for Stoke, which has now lost on all five Premier League visits and conceded 14 goals in the process without scoring.

Stoke's last league win at City came in October 1997 when the two clubs were in the third tier and there seemed little prospect of the Potters improving that dismal record from the outset.

The champions were completely dominant from the first minute but it remarkably took them until the 43rd to make the breakthrough.

Aguero combined well with James Milner in the area early on but Asmir Begovic saved his low shot with his legs.

Aguero met a dipping cross from Gareth Barry but his first-time shot flew narrowly over the bar. Stoke switched off as David Silva was allowed a free header from a Barry free-kick but the Spaniard's effort was well off target.

Aguero had another good chance when he controlled well and turned to shoot inside the area but Begovic was equal to it.

Dzeko, starting a second successive game after his double at Norwich on Saturday, found himself through on goal but failed to work his Bosnia team-mate Begovic.

Aguero did beat Begovic when he got on the end of a Barry cross but the Argentinian's header came back off the post.

The hosts were finally rewarded for their superiority two minutes before the interval when Milner's cross was parried by Begovic and the excellent Zabaleta drove home the rebound.

City carried the momentum into the second half and Robert Huth, who had regularly been troubled by Aguero, bundled the Argentinian over outside the box.

The champions failed to make the most of the free-kick but Stoke's goal was soon under threat as Dzeko latched onto a Toure through ball and sent a dipping half-volley narrowly over the bar.

He was getting closer to troubling his friend Begovic and he accepted a gift from the keeper to double City's lead in the 56th minute.

Aguero weaved his way through the area and poked a shot at Begovic which, unsighted by a defender, he could only parry and Dzeko pounced inside the goal area.

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