Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – David Silva scored two magnificent goals as Manchester City moved a step closer to their first Premier League title under Pep Guardiola with a comfortable 2-0 victory at struggling Stoke on Monday.
After re-establishing a 16-point lead at the top of the table, the latest victory leaves City still with the potential to clinch the title at the start of next month when they host second-placed local rivals United in the Manchester derby.
It took just nine minutes for City to carve open a Stoke side that is looking increasingly certain to suffer relegation this season with every passing week.
As has been then case so many times this season, the goal came with devastating pace and precision on the counter-attack after striker Gabriel Jesus had dropped deep and become involved in build-up play.
He slipped through a perfect pass for Raheem Sterling, sprinting down the right wing, and the England forward’s first-time cross picked out the run of Silva who arrived to convert without hesitation from 12 yards.
For a Stoke side with just one victory in their previous 10 league games, it was the stuff of nightmares and, given the ease with which Guardiola’s team was moving the ball around, it was hard to see a way back for Paul Lambert’s men.
Yet the next meaningful attack came from the struggling hosts and might have resulted in an unlikely equaliser.
Xherdan Shaqiri, with the ball on the by-line, pushed it through the legs of full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko and cut it back to the edge of the area for Badou Ndiaye whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.
It was a rare positive moment for Stoke and one that was short-lived with City soon pressing for a second goal.
After 26 minutes, an exquisite Kevin De Bruyne cross appeared to have set up Silva for a chance only for the Spaniard to miskick six yards out, with Fernandinho sending the rebound over.
Jack Butland was forced to beat De Bruyne to a weak back-pass from Bruno Martins Indi, Jesus just missed connecting with a free-kick close to goal and, as the half closed, Butland saved well from Fernandinho before Leroy Sane volleyed wide.
– Ederson spares Walker’s blushes –
Even when City goalkeeper Ederson was forced into his first serious action of the evening, it was from his own player, as Kyle Walker intercepted Butland’s long clearance with a deflection the Brazilian was forced to tip over his crossbar.