Stoke-on-Trent - Pep Guardiola extended his
100 percent start as Manchester City manager as Sergio Aguero's brace and a
late double from Nolito secured an impressive 4-1 win at Stoke on Saturday.
City's away form last season undermined
their efforts to regain the Premier League title with just four wins from
Manuel Pellegrini's last 16 away league games in charge.
But they are expected to do much better on
their travels in the Guardiola era and this emphatic result suggests the former
Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager will successfully adapt to English
City had won on just one of their eight
Premier League trips to Stoke and, allied to the usual buffeting by the wind
which regularly swirls around the Britannia Stadium, that could have made this
a tricky test.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes also likes
nothing better than to put one over his former club but City avoided a
potential hazard in impressive style.
Jesus Navas earned his first start of the
season in place of Nolito, but Guardiola otherwise stuck with the side that had
demolished Steaua Bucharest 5-0 in mid-week to all but secure their place in
the group stage of the Champions League ahead of Wednesday's return leg.
That game could resemble a shooting gallery
if the City manager send out all his big guns again, with Aguero's appetite for
goals seemingly never likely to be sated.
The Argentina striker has hit the ground
running this season and added to his tally to give City a 26th-minute lead from
the penalty spot.
It was a soft penalty for Stoke to concede but referee Mike Dean's decision to penalise Ryan Shawcross for pulling back Nicolas Otamendi following a corner was the correct one.
Aguero had missed twice missed from the
spot in Romania but added to his opening-day conversion in the Premier League
by confidently driving the ball beyond 40-year-old former City keeper Shay
Given did then keep out an angled drive
from Aguero but 10 minutes before the break was beaten again as City went 2-0
Aguero once again showed his outstanding
predatory instincts to get his head on a free-kick from Kevin De Bruyne and
glance the ball into the corner of the net.
Stoke had looked a threat until falling
behind, with Marko Arnautovic twice making chances for Giannelli Imbula.
The hosts felt they should have had a route
back into the game when Aleksandar Kolarov barged Joe Allen to the ground in
the follow-up from Willy Caballero's fine save from a thumping Phil Bardsley
But the home side only had to wait until
three minutes into the second half for Dean to even things up by awarding them
a penalty, this time penalising Raheem Sterling for putting his hands into the
chest of Shawcross when the diminutive winger was strangely allocated the job
of marking the big Stoke defender.
Bojan Krkic, who played under Guardiola at
Barcelona, converted the spot-kick and suddenly City didn't look so convincing.
Caballero - again preferred to Joe Hart -
had one or two uncertain moments with his kicking, much to the amusement of
Stoke's fans but City weathered a spell of Stoke pressure without wilting.
And with four minutes to go they guaranteed
all three points thanks to a first Premier League goal from Nolito.
Kelechi Iheanacho, fresh from signing a new
long-term contract, had replaced Aguero and after rounding Given the teenager
kept his composure to lift his head and pick out Nolito for a far-post tap-in.
City were now in the comfort zone and made the result even more emphatic in stoppage time when Nolito slotted home his second after the impressive Sterling glided through Stoke's non-existent defence to tee up the Spain international.