Captain Carlos Tevez was back in top form with a match-winning double – both goals came through sheer brilliance by the Argentine – with Joelon Lescott also getting in on the act.
The victory was well-received by the City fans who were in good spirits all night as the FA Cup triumph on Saturday rolled on and they now have the chance to keep third spot away from Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League group stage if they can beat Bolton at the Reebok Stadium this weekend.
Venue: City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester
Referee: Lee Probert
Yellow cards: MANC - nil
STO - Ryan Shawcross 34’, Andy Wilkinson 51’, Salif Diao 81’
City begun brightly with captain Carlos Tevez scooping over the bar in the 7th minute before Stoke managed to frustrate the home side who had to be patient with their build-ups.
James Milner played a neat one-two with Tevez but his volley was way off the target in the 12th minute as City started to warm up.
GOAL They looked increasingly likely to score and that goal came when Tevez played a give-and-go with Milner and skipped around two Stoke defenders in the area before hammering the ball past Potters keeper Thomas Sorensen and into the top left corner to make it 1-0 just prior to the 15-minute mark.
Stoke were looking flat after the FA Cup loss and started to wobble as City ramped up their beautiful, flowing style which looked certain to get them another goal.
That almost came when Milner’s 27th minute goalward piledriver after a corner managed to be blocked by Danny Collins as City started to line up for shots on goal with plenty of confidence.
Joe Hart was first called into action in the 31st minute when Glenn Whelan curled a shot on goal down the Stoke end before Yaya Toure, Saturday’s FA Cup hero, let rip with a left-footed half-volley immediately down the City end much to the delight of the Eastlands faithful.
Stoke looked much more comfortable early in the second half but it did nothing to get them back into the match when City came up with a second goal in the 53rd minute.
GOAL David Silva sent a floating free-kick into the area from the right flank where central defender Joleon Lescott was on hand to head home from the top of the six-yard box for just the third headed goal by City this season.
The City of Manchester Stadium was now rocking and it should have been 3-0 just before the hour-mark when substitute Edin Dzeko skipped past Collins at the edge of the area to force a one-on-one with Sorensen but he attempted to go under the Dane when maybe he should have taken a more aerial route.
GOAL But a third was soon in the back of the net for City when Tevez produced one of the goals of the season with a brilliantly struck free-kick from about 25 yards which curled around the wall and bent back inside the post as Sorensen scrambled but could do nothing about the Argentine maestro’s shot which gave him his 20th league goal of the season.
Dzeko was in the mood and tried his luck with his left foot from an angle moments later but was denied by the post before things died down compared to what had been produced by Roberto Mancini’s men for most of the contest.
It didn’t matter to the City supporters though who danced and sang all night as their side replaced Arsenal in third, grabbing their fifth win in their last seven.
Joe Hart (gk) – Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Pablo Zabaleta – Adam Johnson (Wright=Phillips 67’), Nigel de Jong, James Milner, David Silva (Dzeko 57’) – Carlos Tevez (Boyata 88’), Yaya Toure