• Silva double takes Man City one step closer to title


    MANCHESTER, UK: David Silva scored two magnificent goals as Manchester City moved a step closer to their first Premier League title under Pep Guardiola with a comfortable 2-0 victory at struggling Stoke on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).

    After re-establishing a 16-point lead at the top of the table, the latest victory leaves City still with the potential to clinch the title at the start of next month when they host second-placed local rivals United in the Manchester derby.

    It took just nine minutes for City to carve open a Stoke side that is looking increasingly certain to suffer relegation this season with every passing week.

    As has been then case so many times this season, the goal came with devastating pace and precision on the counter-attack after striker Gabriel Jesus had dropped deep and become involved in build-up play.

    Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder David Silva (left) vies with Stoke City’s US defender Geoff Cameron (center) and Stoke City’s Austrian defender Moritz Bauer (right) during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Manchester City at the Bet365 Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England. AFP PHOTO

    He slipped through a perfect pass for Raheem Sterling, sprinting down the right wing, and the England forward’s first-time cross-picked out the run of Silva who arrived to convert without hesitation from 12 yards.

    For a Stoke side with just one victory in their previous 10 league games, it was the stuff of nightmares and, given the ease with which Guardiola’s team was moving the ball around, it was hard to see a way back for Paul Lambert’s men.

    Yet the next meaningful attack came from the struggling hosts and might have resulted in an unlikely equalizer.

    Xherdan Shaqiri, with the ball on the by-line, pushed it through the legs of fullback Oleksandr Zinchenko and cut it back to the edge of the area for Badou Ndiaye whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.

    It was a rare positive moment for Stoke and one that was short-lived with City soon pressing for a second goal.

    After 26 minutes, an exquisite Kevin De Bruyne cross appeared to have set up Silva for a chance only for the Spaniard to miskick six yards out, with Fernandinho sending the rebound over.

    Jack Butland was forced to beat De Bruyne to a weak back-pass from Bruno Martins Indi, Jesus just missed connecting with a free-kick close to goal and, as the half closed, Butland saved well from Fernandinho before Leroy Sane volleyed wide.

    Even when City goalkeeper Ederson was forced into his first serious action of the evening, it was from his own player, as Kyle Walker intercepted Butland’s long clearance with a deflection the Brazilian was forced to tip over his crossbar.

    By the time Silva claimed his, and City’s, second goal from the first attack of the second half, it was difficult to see a route back for the home side.

    This effort was as pleasing on the eye as the first, after Fernandinho won the ball and played in Silva who exchanged perfect passes with Jesus.

    It was left for Silva to finish, over the body of Butland as the goalkeeper rushed out, capping a performance that was all the more remarkable given the Spaniard has recently been returning to his homeland on a regular basis to spend time with his new-born son.



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