Pep Guardiola made it two league wins from two as Manchester City beat Stoke City 4-1 at the Bet365 Stadium. Sergio Aguero and Nolito each scored a brace to see off Mark Hughes’ side. For the Argentine it is five goals in four days following his midweek hattrick.
Stoke started well and Mark Hughes briefly threatened to haunt his former employers as his side got in behind Manchester City’s high line frequently. Marko Arnautovic and Bojan both found acres of space to run into in the early exchanges but lacked a quality final ball which ultimately plagued them throughout the game.
City laboured and while circulation of the ball was flowing the Stoke City back line was rarely in any real danger.
However it was the visitors who struck first on 26 minutes through an Aguero penalty. Ryan Shawcross was penalised for grappling with Nicolas Otamendi from a corner kick. Aguero made up for his two penalty misses midweek with a precisely dispatched kick high to Shay Given’s right hand side.
Both sides battled in the centre of the park. Guardiola’s men looked to get a firm grip on the game but the hard working Stoke midfield stifled any attempts to do so.
Joe Allen showed the Stoke faithful what he can offer his new employers with plenty of energy in the middle of the park. The Wales international did an expert job of shielding his back four as well as the occasional burst up field to deliver crosses and breaking into the opposition box.
Ten minutes later City doubled their lead. A Kevin De Bryune free kick was deliciously whipped in and Aguero cutely flicked the ball into the far corner past a flailing Given in the Stoke goal.
Stoke tried to muster a quick fire response but the often isolated Mame Biram Diouf saw his lone opportunity spurned as he headed wide.
The game seemed to be over at half time with a clinical City side taking the rare clear cut chances they managed to create.
However referee Mike Dean showed consistency in his officiating awarding the home side a penalty and offered Stoke an avenue back into the contest just four minutes into the second half. Raheem Sterling fouled Ryan Shawcross in the box in an almost carbon copy piece of defending that saw the Stoke defender concede a spot kick in the first half. Bojan scored to drag Stoke back into the game and stick it to his former manager who he said he ‘wouldn’t even have a coffee with.’
The goal saw Stoke pick up the tempo and trouble City’s back line as a delicious Joe Allen cross found Marko Arnautovic who could not set his feet correctly before the resulting corner nearly caught of City goalkeeper Willy Caballero who was still preferred to Joe Hart in the Manchester City goal.
Guardiola brought on new boy Nolito and young sensation Kelechi Iheanacho to inject some fresh legs into City’s attack and the substitutes did the business for their new manager.
With the home side tiring chasing a point City picked them off with breathtaking counterattacking.
Nolito made it 3-1 with just five minutes left. Iheanacho won the ball in a tackle which will infuriate Hughes as it seemed the young Nigerian had fouled Stoke defender Philipp Wollscheid. He exchanged a one-two with David Silva before rounding Given and unselfishly putting it on a plate for the Spaniard to score.
The icing on the cake came in the last minute of injury time and again it saw both substitutes involved as a clever Iheanacho dummy set Sterling free and he squared it to Nolito who helped himself to another tap in to complete a resounding 4-1 victory for Guardiola.