By Steve Sutcliffe | In Match Reports - Home Games
Struggling Stoke remain favourites for the drop after a Robinho hat trick saw Manchester City cruise to victory at Eastlands and condemn the men from the Britannia Stadium to more away day blues.
Robinho had fired City ahead after 14 minutes following a good move that involved Shaun Wright-Phillips, Elano and Ched Evans.
His and City’s second came when he expertly guided a right foot shot past the outstretched Thomas Sorensen after being set up by substitute Danny Sturridge’s neat pass.
Robinho rounded off his perfect day when he calmly slotted home first time from a Sturridge pass.
City started the game without striker Jo, who was ill but were boosted by Micah Richards’ involvement following his withdrawal against Newcastle and the news that England hopeful Joe Hart had agreed a new long-term deal to stay with the Blues.
City started brightly and Robinho went close early on, when he carried the ball down the left channel and his thumping shot was pushed away by Sorensen at the near post.
From the resulting corner, City then had strong appeals for a penalty dismissed by referee Steve Tanner after an Evans flick on appeared to strike the arm of Stoke’s Mamady Sidibe.
But on the 14th minute even the official couldn’t come to Stoke’s rescue as City carved out a delightful move full of touch and vision which Robinho gleefully converted.
Elano cushioned a header from a Wright-Phillips cross down to Evans, who in turn, cleverly disguised a pass to Robinho which enabled the Brazilian to score from 10 yards out.
With City ahead Stoke suddenly found an extra gear and Hart was twice forced into action to prevent a Stoke equaliser.
First, the City keeper dived to his left to tip away a shot from Ricardo Fuller, after the Jamaican had latched on to some poor control by defender Tal Ben-Haim and Hart was also on hand to push away Ryan Shawcross’ header after a Tom Soares corner.
City had to withdraw the injured Evans at the break but the Welshman’s replacement, Sturridge made an immediate impact.
The England Youth International cut in from the right before threading a neat pass into the path of Robinho who made no mistake to fire past Sorenson from an angle.
City’s Micah Richards then blazed over from eight yards and Sorensen twice thwarted Robinho with good saves as City threatened to run riot. But the Brazilian was not to be denied and in the 72nd minute he ran on to a good ball by Sturridge and coolly slotted home from the edge of the box to complete his hat-trick.
On a miserable day for Stoke, Salif Diao and substitute Dave Kitson both went close for the visitors as they battled to reduce the arrears but City were in truth comfortable victors and could have added a fourth when Stephen Ireland raced on to a through ball by Robino but lifted his effort over the bar.
Man City: Hart, Richards, Dunne (Fernandes 76), Ben-Haim, Garrido (Onuoha 70), Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Kompany, Elano, Robinho, Evans (Sturridge 42).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Caicedo, Hamann, Berti.
Goals: Robinho 14, 47, 72.
Stoke: Sorensen, Griffin, Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Soares (Cresswell 69), Olofinjana, Diao (Whelan 76), Delap, Fuller, Sidibe (Kitson 66).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Cort, Amdy Faye, Wilkinson.