Manchester, Dec 22: Manchester City ensured it will spend Christmas Day as leader of the of the English top flight for the first time since 1929 after Sergio Aguero scored twice Wednesday to help secure a 3-0 win over Stoke.
Aguero opened the scoring in the 29th minute and Adam Johnson, who started a league game for the first time in over two months, added the second in the 36th to give City a commanding halftime lead.
Aguero added his second in the 54th for his 15th goal of the season to ensure a comfortable second half for Roberto Mancini's team.
The victory also means City have dropped just two points in home league matches in the year, to Fulham in February, and Mancini said he thinks other teams are starting to dread their visits to the blue side of Manchester.
“It's the same thing that happens against (Manchester) United,” Mancini said. “All the teams that play against United play with fear and don't attack because United have been a top team for a very long time. Probably now, against us, some teams have a problem and they play in a different way. It's a great thing but sometimes it would be better to have a good, open match and have a good match for both teams.”
Manchester always looked in charge against Stoke, and Johnson struck a 15th-minute shot from just inside the area which deflected off defender Marc Wilson and hit the crossbar.
Samir Nasri also looked like handing City an inevitable lead when he exchanged passes with Aguero and curled a shot just wide of the target.
But the goal finally arrived when David Silva's pass freed Yaya Toure who sent a low, hard cross into the Stoke six-yard box. City defender Vincent Kompany made slight contact at the near post and goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen could only deflect the ball into the path of Aguero who tapped the loose ball home from point-blank range.
Seven minutes before the interval, Stoke were in further trouble as Johnson gathered a loose ball and sent a perfect 20-yard shot flying into the bottom left-hand corner of the Stoke goal.
The winger almost repeated the act before halftime when his long-range free kick beat the wall and sent Sorensen diving low to his right to steer the ball around the post.
After the restart, Aguero twice tested Sorensen before the in-form City forward claimed his second goal of the evening. Yaya Toure took the ball off Wilson Palacios in midfield, Gareth Barry picked out Nasri in the Stoke area and his simple cross handed Aguero another routine finish, rolling the ball into a gaping goal.
Stoke failed to register a single attempt on goal as the league leaders maintained their momentum, Sorensen saving from Aguero then the same home player missing the target with only the goalkeeper to beat when played through by Yaya Toure.
“You've just got to look at Man City's bench to see how tough it is for anybody to play against them and they must be distraught they are out of the Champions League,” Stoke manager Tony Pulis said.
“With the quality they have, the strength in depth they have, they would have run that competition close this season, never mind the (league) championship. They are contenders for everything they are in but you'd expect that, spending >240 million or whatever they have spent.”