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Tevez vows to stay as City cruise into third

Roberto Mancini last night revealed that talismanic skipper Carlos Tevez has told him he wishes to stay with Manchester City next season.

The Argentinian handed in a transfer request earlier this season, but later withdrew it, and speculation of a summer exit was rife.

But Mancini told reporters after the 3-0 victory over Stoke City that Tevez now wants to remain at the club.

“He has scored 21 goals,” Mancini said. “We keep saying he's an important player.”

When asked if Tevez has told him he wants to stay, he added: “Yes. He told me before the cup final.

“I think that he stays next year, I don't think we can change next year because we are playing Champions League. We will have a good squad because we can buy better players.”

Tevez last night drew level with Dimitar Berbatov in the battle for the Golden Boot as his magnificent brace left City on the brink of direct qualification for the Champions League.

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The little genius lashed his side in front after beating two men inside the Stoke box, then curled home a superb free-kick to take his tally to 20, exactly the same as Berbatov, with one game of the season remaining.

More importantly for Mancini, it leaves his team knowing a victory at Bolton on Sunday will secure a straight passage through to the group stages of Europe's elite club competition, avoiding a hazardous qualification round in August when Bayern Munich and Villarreal had already been lined up as potential opponents.

Joleon Lescott also found the net with a simple header to complete a perfect week for City but rub salt into the Stoke wounds still gaping after that devastating FA Cup final defeat at Wembley on Saturday, which ended the Blues' 35-year wait for a trophy.

Both teams looked to be nursing a Wembley hangover, and it was Tevez, inevitably, who made the first decisive impact.

Given the uncertainty over his future, this could yet turn out to be the 26-year-old's final game at Eastlands. If so, he marked the occasion in style.

Collecting Milner's return pass just inside the Stoke box, he nimbly stepped past Ryan Shawcross and Andy Wilkinson, before cutting a superb shot into the far corner.

City toyed with their visitors after that. Tony Pulis at least galvanised his team into action at the start of the second period.

But all hope was lost once City had gained a rather fortunate free-kick for a Danny Collins foul on Micah Richards.

Lescott evaded all attention, got in front of Sorensen as he jumped for Adam Johnson's free-kick and had the easiest of tasks to nod home his second goal of the season.

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