STOKE, England (AP):
For Manchester City, a record-setting season in the English Premier League could yet have the perfect ending.
Beating Stoke 2-0 yesterday restored City’s 16-point lead and increased the possibility that Pep Guardiola’s side could clinch the title by beating fierce rivals Manchester United at home in the derby on April 7.
“Everybody in the blue side of Manchester knows it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” City captain Vincent Kompany said, with a smile.
David Silva inspired the latest win for the runaway leaders, scoring in each half by finishing off sumptuous team moves that have been the hallmark of City’s season.
Silva side-footed home a cross from fit-again winger Raheem Sterling to give City a 10th-minute lead against a Stoke team that is next to last in the standings.
City dominated thereafter and Sterling won back possession on halfway to start the move that led to the second goal, a hooked finish by Silva, following a pass across the box from Gabriel Jesus.
Silva took his tally of league goals to eight in a season that has been disrupted for the playmaker, while he makes regular trips back to his native Spain because his prematurely born son is receiving medical attention.
He was there for much of last week, with Guardiola allowing Silva to miss the second leg of their Champions League last-16 matchup against Basel.
“When I play football, I forget. I forget everything. So it’s good for me to play,” Silva said. “I know in my private life it’s a very hard moment, but my son is fighting. I am very happy because he’s getting stronger and fighting.”
Sterling was influential on his return to the team after missing five games because of injury, and he should have capped his display with a goal of his own.
Running clean through in the 80th minute, Sterling delayed his attempt to round Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland. He finally did so, but Stoke’s defence recovered by then and managed to dispossess Sterling.
Stoke didn’t threaten City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes once and will resume their bid to escape relegation with a home game against Everton on Saturday.