Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City could seal Premier League title against United after Silva brilliance

Stoke City 0-2 Man City

By Andy Hampson

David Silva struck twice as Manchester City took another stride towards their seemingly inevitable coronation as Premier League champions with a 2-0 victory at Stoke.

Silva found the net early in each half as Pep Guardiola's men enjoyed a comfortable night at the bet365 Stadium to re-establish a 16-point lead at the top.

The result leaves City needing only a maximum of three wins from eight remaining games to take the title, but two would suffice if one of them comes against second-placed Man United.

That means there is a possibility City could complete the job at home to derby against rivals United on April 7, if they beat Everton in their next game on March 31.

City captain Vincent Kompany said: "Every win brings you closer to your goal but we want to keep this standard until the end of the season and into the next season too.

"It's a massive boost for us to play the game like we do. Everybody in the blue side of Manchester knows it's a once in a lifetime opportunity (to win the title against Manchester United) but steady, it won't be handed to us."

City were without top scorer Sergio Aguero but that mattered little as they barely needed to get out of second gear against the relegation-threatened Potters.

Stoke did begin aggressively in the hope of suffocating City but the visitors soon stretched them by playing a few longer passes.

Within 10 minutes City had broken through after Gabriel Jesus released the fit-again Raheem Sterling down the right. Sterling picked out Silva in front of goal and the Spaniard flicked home.

Stoke went for long spells without touching the ball but created a chance out of nothing as Xherdan Shaqiri nutmegged Oleksandr Zinchenko. The Swiss pulled the ball back for Badou Ndiaye but his shot was deflected wide by Fernandinho.

Kyle Walker then almost managed to lob his own keeper after an awkward touch under pressure from Jese following a long clearance from Jack Butland, but Ederson scrambled back.

Aside from that, Stoke were chasing the ball. City went close to a second when Kevin de Bruyne whipped in a dangerous free-kick but Jesus failed to make contact. Fernandinho also forced a save from Butland, and Leroy Sane volleyed wide.

Stoke managed to reach the break without further damage but City doubled their lead within five minutes of the restart.

Silva drove City forward, found Jesus on the edge of the box and then watched the Brazilian's bouncing return pass superbly to fire home.

Sterling then jinked through the Stoke box before being denied by the feet of Butland, who also saved from Fernandinho. Sane curled another effort wide.

Stoke made a mess of a drop-ball situation in the latter stages and Sterling went through on goal but Ndiaye just did enough to put him off. Ndiaye then turned to complain, suggesting City had been unsporting, and referee Jonathan Moss had to becalm increasing tension.

Bruno Martins Indi did volley over but Stoke offered little else.

STOKE CITY: Butland, Bauer, Zouma, Martins Indi, Stafylidis, Badou, Cameron (Sobhi 88), Allen, Shaqiri, Jese (Crouch 63), Choupo-Moting. Not used: Haugaard, Johnson, Adam, Shawcross, Fletcher.

MAN CITY: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, D Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling (B Silva 85), Sane, Jesus (Gundogan 90). Subs not used: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Laporte, Toure.

Man of the match: David Silva

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Jonathan Moss

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