Barclay’s Premier League
Tuesday 17 May 2011, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Zabaleta, de Jong, Milner, Y Touré, Silva (Dzeko 57), A Johnson (Wright-Phillips 68), Tevez (c) (Boyata 88)
Unused: Given, Kolarov, Barry, Vieira
Goals: Tevez (15, 65), Lescott (53)
Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez
Having seen Arsenal drop points again on the weekend when City beat Stoke to lift the FA Cup, the home side were confident of a repeat performance from Saturday to lift themselves into the driving seat for third place in the league. In truth, it was rarely in doubt, as City continued their good play from the final against a deflated Stoke side.
Silva had the first effort of the game, but it was wide of Sorensen’s goal and not troubling the goalkeeper, before Tevez raced onto a great ball over the top from Touré and chested it down, but his shot was just over the bar. City were in full control of the game and Stoke looked like a team with nothing left to play for this season.
And it took just 15 minutes for the opening goal and there were no surprises who got it. City’s all-time leading scorer at Eastlands added another to the tally as, after a quick one-two with Milner, Tevez stepped inside one challenge and around another to lash the ball into the top corner, with Sorensen helpless.
Stoke threatened for the first time in the game with just over 20 minutes played and it was with a deep cross into the box that Hart came to punch, but missed. Carew collected the ball and lashed a shot at goal, but Richards was there to block bravely with his face, leaving him dazed… but he was back on his feet quickly.
Johnson was almost slotted through by Silva, but Shawcross got in front of the pass and read it well, before Silva found himself almost through on goal, but he tried to check back onto his left foot and the Stoke defence were back to clear. Milner then picked up the pieces from a City corner and fired a shot through the crowd, but it hit a Stoke leg and then Carlos Tevez, before bouncing to safety.
Shawcross then saw a yellow card for a blatant body check to prevent Yaya Touré a clean run through on goal and City could do nothing with the free kick mid-way into the opposition half. Johnson then cut in from the right flank, but his shot was blocked for a corner that, eventually, came to nothing and there was only one team in the game at the break.
The first action of the second half saw City double their lead. Richards powered his way through two tackles and went down under a third from Wilkinson, though the free kick appeared very harsh on the Stoke man. Johnson curled the ball into the box and Sorensen came to collect, but it was Lescott who got there first, nodding past him and into the net.
Soon after replacing Silva, Dzeko almost found himself on the scoresheet, too. A lucky bounce fell to him on the edge of the box and he closed in on goal. He tried to slide it past Sorensen, but the Stoke keeper was down quickly to smother the ball and hold on, keeping his side in the game for the time being.
Though, soon enough, City were well in front and it was Carlos Tevez again, to pull himself level with Dimitar Berbatov for the Premier League Golden Boot. A free kick was awarded to City about six yards outside the Stoke box and the captain stepped up to fire it right into the top corner, giving Sorensen no chance of stopping it.
And on 67 minutes, Dzeko smashed the ball into the outside of the post after some good work on the right flank, before Milner was pulled down on the edge of the box by Diao. It looked like an ideal opportunity for Tevez to grab his third as it appeared the referee had given a penalty, until he revised his decision to a free kick. Tevez did take it, but it was chipped over the bar.
With minutes to play, Dzeko headed over from a corner and Zabaleta had to leave the pitch early, again, after he caught a boot in the face and received a nasty cut for his troubles. The Argentinean was, understandably, frustrated and a water bottle on the side of the pitch bore the brunt of his annoyance.
And with that, City leapt up into third place in the Premier League with three goals on the night and Joe Hart’s seventeenth clean sheet of the season earned him the Golden Gloves. All the remains is to see if City can stay in third with a victory over Bolton next weekend and if Tevez can take the Golden Boot.