Stoke wilt in the face of rampant Manchester City
Hosts dish out another thrashing at the Etihad to move two points cleat at the top
Leroy Sane celebrates scoring Manchester City’s sixth as they thrashed Stoke City at the Etihad. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP
Kevin De Bruyne orchestrated a Manchester City masterclass as Pep Guardiola’s freescoring side thrashed Stoke 7-2 at the Etihad Stadium.
The Belgian did not get on the scoresheet but marked his 100th City appearance by setting up four goals for the rampant Premier League leaders.
All of this came without Sergio Aguero, who after making a rapid recovery from a broken rib sustained in a car crash, was an unused substitute.
That the game was in the balance early in the second half was remarkable given the brilliance of City’s performance in a spellbinding opening half-hour. The hosts clicked straight into gear with De Bruyne masterminding some mesmeric play and Guardiola applauding on the touchline.
They should have taken the lead after seven minutes when De Bruyne whipped in a dangerous ball but Sane blasted over.
The game looked up for Stoke — and some of their fans left — after they conceded three times in a blistering 10-minute spell midway through the first half.
The opener came after De Bruyne released Walker with a well-weighted pass and the England international pulled back for Jesus to turn home.
City doubled their lead almost immediately, this time after an even more eye-catching pass from De Bruyne. Stoke were completely deceived by the Belgian’s defence-splitting ball and Sane raced through to set up a Sterling tap-in.
The onslaught continued as another series of rapid one-touch passes ended with Sane and Sterling combining for David Silva to stab home his first goal of the season.
Stoke possession was a rarity but they almost caught City out as Kurt Zouma embarked on a long run and shot at Ederson.
City did not heed that warning and were cut open by a move Guardiola might have been proud of. Diouf found Jese in the box, received the ball back from a backheel and sent a goalbound shot past Ederson via a deflection off Fabian Delph.
Guardiola made clear his frustration but it was not his side’s only wobble as soon after the break Stoke’s 18-year-old debutant defender Thomas Edwards crossed from the right. Diouf mistimed his header but it deflected in off Walker.
Unfortunately for Edwards he was forced off soon after and it got even worse for Stoke as City burst back into life.
De Bruyne took charge, getting clear down the right and crossing for Jesus to fire into the roof of the net.
Moments later Fernandinho sent a long-range piledriver into the top corner and De Bruyne then played in Sane with another magnificent long-range pass. The German shot through Butland’s legs.
Subsitute Bernardo Silva completed the rout when he poked home after a nice touch in the area.