Manchester City moved up to third in the Premier League with a routine win over Stoke ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid.
Fernando headed the hosts in front from a corner before a Sergio Aguero penalty – awarded for Ryan Shawcross’s foul on Kelechi Iheanacho – doubled the lead.
Iheanacho, 19, added the third from close range, then the teenager rounded the keeper to seal an emphatic win.
Stoke conceded four goals for the third straight Premier League game.
Relive the action from the Etihad Stadium
Reaction from the Etihad and from Saturday’s Premier League and FA Cup games
Man City ready for Real test
Manuel Pellegrini rested a number of players, including captain Vincent Kompany and midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, with the first-leg visit of 10-time champions of Europe Real Madrid in mind.
Yet his side go into one of the biggest games in the club’s history with confidence high after moving above Arsenal, who play at Sunderland on Sunday, in the table.
Manchester City’s place at the top of table of European football next season is by no means certain but, a slow start notwithstanding, they showed their ruthless side to dispose of a Stoke team that missed several good chances.
Such was their dominance, Pellegrini could afford the luxury of bringing off influential players David Silva and Sergio Aguero to rest legs for the heavyweight meeting with Real.
Will Iheanacho play against Real?
The biggest roar of the game came five minutes from time, when Iheanacho was announced as man of the match.
Just as neighbours United have an exciting young forward in Marcus Rashford, so do Manchester City in the shape of the young Nigeria international, who has had a hand in 11 goals (seven goals, four assists) in nine competitive starts for in 2015/16.
After Fernando had got the better of Geoff Cameron to glance home the opening goal from a corner, Iheanacho won the penalty that Aguero promptly dispatched before scoring twice himself in the space of 10 second-half minutes.
His first, to make it 3-0, was a cool finish from Pablo Zabaleta’s clever run and pass, while Iheanacho showed maturity beyond his years to round the keeper and slot home after being sent clear by substitute Wilfried Bony.
He now has 11 goals in 30 senior outings for City and is turning into a real prospect. Real Madrid will offer different level of test to Stoke City but Iheanacho’s pace off the bench could be a useful weapon for Pellegrini.
The stats you need to know
- Goalkeeper Shay Given became the 14th player to start a Premier League game aged 40 or older (40y 3d old).
- Sergio Aguero has scored 22 goals in his last 21 Premier League appearances, including seven in his last five games.
- Aguero has netted in five consecutive Premier League games for the fourth time in his career (also November 2013, January 2014 and May 2015).
- Kelechi Iheanacho has scored 11 goals from 15 shots on target in all competitions for Man City this season.
- Stoke are without a clean sheet in nine away Premier League games, conceding 22 goals.
- The Potters are the third team in Premier League history to concede 4+ goals in three consecutive Premier League games, after West Ham in March 2008 and Wigan in August 2010.
Attention now turns to Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid for Manchester City, whose next Premier League game is at Southampton on 1 May.
Stoke will attempt to arrest their losing run at home to struggling Sunderland next Saturday.
More to follow.