FA Cup winners Manchester City beat Stoke City for the second time in four days to leap into third spot in the English.Carlos Tevez’s future at the Blues is uncertain but – if this is to be his last game at Eastlands – he signed off with a brilliant double in the 3-0 win to move join top of the league scoring charts with Dimitar Berbatov.
The Argentine broke the deadlock with a stunning individual effort that was only bettered by an amazing 30-yard free-kick in the second half.
Joleon Lescott scored the other in a victory which takes City above Arsenal and into third position, which would see them avoid a Champions League qualifier.
For Stoke, however, the end of the season cannot come quickly enough as they looked badly hungover from their FA Cup heartbreak at the hands of Roberto Mancini’s side.
City started brightly with Tevez, James Milner and Yaya Toure all missing the target from good positions, before Mancini’s men finally took the lead in the 15th minute.
Tevez beat two players before exchanging passes with Milner, dummying past two more Stoke defenders and firing into the top corner from 15 yards for a superb individual goal.
Micah Richards and Milner fizzed in dangerous crosses that were a whisker away from getting a City touch for a second.
At the other end, Stoke finally got a shot on target in the 35th minute through Glenn Whelan, but it was comfortably plucked out of the air by Joe Hart.
It took until the eighth minute of the second half for City to double their advantage.
Richards’ powerful run was crudely brought to a halt by Danny Collins, and Johnson floated in the free-kick which Lescott got to ahead of Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen to head into the net.
Edin Dzeko should have made it 3-0 minutes after coming off the bench but fired straight at Sorensen from close range.
But a third goal finally arrived in the 66th minute in spectacular fashion, when Tevez curled an unstoppable 30-yard free-kick into the top corner.
Dzeko then hit the outside of the post with a fierce strike from the corner of the box while Tevez flipped a free-kick just over the bar as he searched for a hat-trick.