Milner and Nasri shine in excellent second half performance
FA Premier League
Wednesday 11 February 2015, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Mangala, Kolarov, Fernando, Fernandinho, Milner, Nasri (Navas 86), Silva (Lampard 80), Aguero (Dzeko 73)
Unused: Caballero, Sagna, Demichelis, Jovetic
Goals: Aguero (32 & 70), Milner (55), Nasri (76)
Booked: Aguero, Milner
Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the match: Milner
After Saturday's frustrating draw at home to Hull, Manchester City knew they had to take three points against Stoke. The Potters, led by former City manager Mark Hughes, had beaten the Premier Champions once already this season, with Mame Birame Diouf scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win for Hughes' side back in August.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini has been under pressure recently, with his side's failure to win a single game in their last five attempts, and for the trip to The Britannia Stadium he reverted to a five man midfield. Sergio Aguero was the lone striker, supported by Samir Nasri, James Milner and David Silva with Fernandinho and Fernando as the holding midfielders. Eliaquim Mangala was preferred to Martin Demichelis at centre halkf, and Aleksandr Kolarov was selected instead of Gael Clichy.
Stoke started the game on the front foot, with Victor Moses impressing for Mark Hughes' side and causing Pablo Zabaleta numerous problems. City only started to find their rhythm late in the first half and took the lead when Sergio Aguero powered home a shot past Asmir Begovic. Stoke, to their credit, responded well, and were quickly back on level terms. Peter Crouch once again scored against City, heading in Marko Arnoutovich's excellent cross.
The second half was arguably Manchester City's best 45 minutes of the season. The passing was crisp, and the movement off the ball excellent, and City deservedly took the lead through the impresive James Milner, the Englishman scoring a neat header after some delightful intricate play by David Silva and Samir Nasri. The Blues went strength to strength, and were soon awarded a penalty as David Silva was pulled back by Geoff Cameron. Aguero confidently dispatched the spot kick to give Manchester City a two goal lead.
Samir Nasri, whose absence in recent weeks has been as keenly felt as that of Yaya Toure, was in sublime form and he capped off a fine performance with a wonderful solo effort in the 76th minute.
It was a welcome result for Manuel Pellegrini, whose side now have a week long break before they host Newcastle United at The Etihad, in a game which should see the return of Yaya Toure, and the debut of Wilfried Bony.