By William Wood | In Match Reports - Home Games
All eyes were on new manager Roberto Mancini at the City of Manchester Stadium as he took charge of his first game, and Manchester City duly delivered a
comfortable 2-0 win over Stoke City which solidified their Premier League position.
A whirlwind week at Eastlands saw Mark Hughes replaced by the former Inter Milan manager, and he was immediately forced to change things around due to a number of injuries, with Micah making the bench following an ankle injury.
The festive period always offers up great atmospheres around the country and this Boxing Day encounter was to be no different, with Vincent Kompany almost sending the City fans straight back to their feet with a volley which fizzed just wide after four minutes.
Carlos Tevez – impressive throughout December having become a regular starter – then cut in from the right and weaved through Stoke’s defence before firing wide of the far post, whilst Robinho looked to justify his inclusion ahead of Craig Bellamy with a low drive that was right down Thomas Sorensen’s throat.
Stoke, however, had a fine opportunity of their own as Tuncay Sanli used his pace to break through City’s defence and stab goalwards, but Shay Given was on hand to save.
Tony Pulis’ men were holding firm, with Abdoulaye Faye nicking the ball off Gareth Barry’s foot as the England midfielder teed up his shot, but they could hold no more as a fine City attack saw the hosts grab the lead with 28 minutes on the clock.
Stephen Ireland laid the ball off to Tevez who in turn charged forward, and while Robinho scuffed his own shot from the Argentinian’s ball in, Martin Petrov rushed in at the far post to make it 1-0.
The Bulgarian could have had his and City’ second just moments before the break too, Barry picking out his team-mate with a pinpoint cross, but the winger sliced across the ball and watched as it made its way into the stands, a fate that greeted Robinho’s attempted volley a second later.
The home crowd had readied themselves for the interval but Tevez had other
thoughts as he extended City’s lead. Barry’s flick evaded the Stoke defence and the diminutive forward acrobatically prodded the home beyond Sorensen, with it netting his fifth goal in December alone.
If Pulis hoped for an immediate reaction from his side he would have been livid to see City ease straight through Stoke’s defence only for Robinho and Petrov to be denied after the restart, though there was a lull in the proceeding quarter-of-an-hour.
City were content with the two goal lead as the visitors struggled to carve open any noteworthy chances, Matthew Etherington going closest with a snap-shot that sailed high and wide. With 25 minutes remaining Micah was introduced to proceedings during Mancini’s first-ever substitution as manager of City, and the youngster was to prove to be a valuable addition to the ranks as an aerial battle increasingly took
Ricardo Fuller’s flicked header threatened to silence the crowd as Stoke became desperate for opportunities, while at the other end Tevez rose to meet Craig Bellamy’s cross only for the ball to fly just a yard too high.
Provider almost turned scorer as Bellamy then did well to evade Robert Huth’s
challenge and get his shot away, and as Sorensen palmed the ball clear the forward appealed to the referee for the apparent foul by the giant German defender in the lead-up.
It wasn’t to be, and as Tevez once again coasted his way passed several Stoke defenders only to miss the target, the feeling was that City had done enough to secure the win and hand Mancini a perfect start to his tenure.
Danny Higgingbotham threatened to momentarily dampen spirits only for his shot to flick the side-netting, and it was applause all round as City added three more points to their tally to keep pace with the top-four as Mancini and his team made an impressive debut.
Man City: Given, Zabaleta, Toure, Kompany, Sylvinho, De Jong, Barry, Robinho, Ireland, Petrov, Tevez Subs: Taylor, Richards, Garrido, Vidal, Bellamy, Weiss, Boyata
Stoke City: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Abdoulaye Faye, Collins, Higginbotham, Sanli, Whitehead, Diao, Whelan, Etherington, Sidibe Subs: Simonsen, Huth, Lawrence, Beattie, Fuller, Pugh, Delap
Man City: Petrov (28’), Tevez (45’)
Stoke City: None