Manchester City closed in on the Premier League title with a dominant 2-0 win over Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium.
A brace of goals from David Silva saw Manchester City take the three points, with a strike apiece at the start of both halves. The win means that should City beat Everton and Manchester United in their next two matches, they'll be crowned champions. Paul Lambert's Stoke, by contrast, remained mired in trouble, 19th in the league table, and with eight games left to save their Premier League status. The win gave City their first league-season double over Stoke since 1998/99, when both sides were in a slightly different situation: English football's third tier.
Silva's first came after ten minutes when Gabriel Jesus laid the ball off to Raheem Sterling on the right side of the field, with the England striker crossing for Silva to finish pack Jack Butland in nets.
The second came five minutes after the break, with City winning the ball in midfield, where Fernandinho fed Silva, who laid off to Jesus, before collecting a return pass from the Brazilian, and lobbing an advancing Butland from the edge of the box.
The goals took Silva's tally to four in his last four games, remarkable given he is dealing with the premature birth of his son, with the Spain international saying post-match: "When I play football I forget about everything else, it's good for me to play. My private life is very hard for me but my son is fighting and getting better." The Spaniard has now scored seven goals in the league this season, only in 2014/15 has he scored more with 12 by season's end.
City captain Vincent Kompany stated that the squad want no let up of standards as they march, now almost inevitably, towards the league title.
"Every win brings you closer to your goal, but we want to keep this standard until the end of the season and into the next season too," said Kompany.
"It's a massive boost for us to play the game like we do. Everybody in the blue side of Manchester knows it's a once in a lifetime opportunity [to win the title against Manchester United] but steady, it won't be handed to us."
City manager Pep Guardiola praised Silva's ability to control the tempo of the side, both when in possession and without. He also highlighted the benefit that their upcoming three-week break, due to their early exit from the FA Cup, will give them.
"Now we have three weeks off, we go to Abu Dhabi and will come back strong. It is a tough winter for everybody so we are off straight away and we look forward to the weather," said Guardiola.
"Today we were solid. David Silva controls the tempo. He has the skills no doubt about that but in the bad moments he is there to control the game and he is an aggressive competitor.
"I understand that it is important to our fans to win it against United but the target is the next game at Everton. After that, if we play like today sooner or later we will be champions."
You can watch all of Manchester City's remaining matches in the Champions League live on the eir Sport pack, as they look to achieve a treble along with the Premier League and the already secured League Cup.
Image: Getty/ Michael Regan
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