Terrific Tevez smashes Stoke
City skipper bags brilliant brace to lift Mancini's men up to third
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp. Last Updated: 17/05/11 11:16pm
Tevez: City skipper bagged a brilliant brace against Stoke to lift his side up to third
Carlos Tevez proved how priceless he is to Manchester City with a stunning brace against Stoke to lift the Eastlands outfit up to third in the Premier League table.
The FA Cup winners already have UEFA Champions League football secured for next season but have now edged ahead of Arsenal in the standings with the team finishing fourth facing a potentially tricky play-off to reach the lucrative group stages.
Whether Tevez will be present for next season's feast at European football's top table remains to be seen, with question marks remaining over his long-term future at Eastlands, but he again demonstrated his class with a deadly double.
The Argentina international broke the deadlock against a Stoke side still smarting from their Wembley defeat on Saturday, playing a one-two with James Milner before weaving away from two challenges and smashing a rising effort beyond Thomas Sorensen in the 14th minute.
Joleon Lescott made it 2-0 early in the second period with a close-range header after being set up by Adam Johnson, before Tevez produced arguably the moment of the match, curling home a 30-yard free-kick with such power, pace and precision it left Sorensen grasping at thin air as the ball ripped into the top corner.
That sublime strike also took Tevez level with Dimitar Berbatov as the Premier League's top scorer on 21 goals ahead of City's final game of the season away to Bolton on Sunday.
Stoke's capacity to raise their spirits for this game, just three days after suffering the crushing weekend disappointment had to be called into question.
James Milner did race onto an excellent pass from Tevez, which the South American flicked over his shoulder, but his volley was woefully wide.
Tevez decided it was time to get involved himself. Given the uncertainty over his future, this could yet turn out to be the 26-year-old's final game at Eastlands. If so, he marked the occasion in style.
Collecting Milner's return pass just inside the Stoke box, he nimbly stepped past Ryan Shawcross and Andy Wilkinson, two of the six men who retained their places from the weekend for the visitors, before cutting a superb shot into the far corner.
It was further proof that if Tevez does decide to move elsewhere, he will leave a king-size hole in Mancini's City squad that money alone will not necessarily be able to fill, no matter what status the world's richest club enjoy.
City toyed with their visitors after that. Milner and Toure both launched speculative efforts towards the visitors' goal without looking like adding to City's lead and Stoke's only response was an equally unlikely strike by Glenn Whelan that Joe Hart dealt with easily.
Tony Pulis at least galvanised his team into action at the start of the second period. but all hope was lost once City had gained a rather fortunate free-kick for a Danny Collins foul on Micah Richards.
Lescott evaded all attention, got in front of Sorensen as he jumped for Adam Johnson's free-kick and had the easiest of tasks to nod home his second goal of the season.
Watching from the stands, Wigan boss Roberto Martinez could only hope Stoke will be in similarly lethargic mood at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday when they face that heart-stopping five-team battle for survival.
Substitute Edin Dzeko should have doubled his tally of Premier League goals instead of drilling a shot straight at Sorensen after muscling his way into the penalty area.
Then when Whelan brought down Nigel de Jong, City skipper Tevez let fly with a quite magnificent curling free-kick that gave Sorensen no chance as it flew right into the top corner.
Dzeko struck the outside of a post from an acute angle, which again just highlighted how much City rely on Tevez.
A mad dash out of his goal to clear, and an equally frantic scramble back again ensured Hart's goal remained in tact, which confirmed another clean sheet and the Golden Glove prize.But the highest goalscorer is the award that carries greater prestige, and Tevez would have gone in front had he not clipped yet another free-kick narrowly over in the latter stages.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Stoke City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||1|
|8||Shots off Target||3|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||26||39|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||26||27|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|