CITY 3 STOKE CITY 0
Barclays Premier League
26th October 2008
Scorer Robinho(14, 47, 72)
City Hart, Ben Haim, Richards, Dunne, Garrido, Elano, Kompany, Wright-Phillips, Robinho, Ireland, Evans – Subs Sturridge(42), Fernandes(76), Schmeichel(unused), Berti(unused), Onuoha(70), Hamann(unused), Caicedo(64)
Stoke Sorensen, Griffin, Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Soares, Diao, Olofinjana, Delap, Fuller, Sidibe – subs Simonsen(unused), Cresswell(70), Cort(unused), Amdy Faye(unused), Whelan(76), Wilkinson(unused), Kitson(66)
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
Robinho puts gloss on Manchester City
Tony Pulis, the Stoke City manager, could argue that this is what £34.2 million buys you, but Manchester City’s first win in the Barclays Premier League for five weeks was down to much more than a first hat-trick in English football for Robinho.
It was a clutch of home-grown players that pulled the strings and almost brought Stoke to their knees during as one-sided a second half as you will see all season.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Stephen Ireland and Daniel Sturridge, who replaced the injured Ched Evans – another product of the academy – shortly before half-time, were outstanding, terrorising Stoke with pace, poise and panache that left Mark Hughes cooing from the touchline.
“Robinho was excellent,” the City manager said. “The crowd adore what he’s producing and rightly so, but it was not just about him. The importance of young players is key to where we want to go, I recognise that and the owners recognise that. We were devastating on the break.”
Since demolishing Portsmouth 6-0 on September 21, the day that Sheikh Mansour completed his £200 million takeover, City had exited the Carling Cup at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion and mustered only a point from nine available in the league.
Had Joe Hart not produced fine saves to deny Ricardo Fuller twice and Ryan Shawcross, Stoke might have been spared defeat, but Hughes’s team were well worth their victory. Robinho was imperious, but all three of his goals were the result of beautifully orchestrated moves.
Fourteen minutes had elapsed when Wright-Phillips whipped in a cross that was nodded down to Evans by Elano. Seeing that his sight of goal was blocked, the Wales forward looked up and stroked the ball to Robinho, who drilled it into the bottom corner. That was about it from City in the first period, but there was plenty to follow in the second and, but for Thomas Sorensen in the Stoke goal and a bit of wastefulness, it could easily have been five or six.
The second goal, coming within two minutes of the restart, was a beauty. Sturridge ghosted in from the right, drew in three defenders and then picked the perfect moment with which to release Robinho to score.
Robinho was denied his hat-trick on a couple of occasions by Sorensen before finally plundering his third in the 72nd minute. It was a classic counter-attack, Wright-Phillips and Sturridge charging forward in tandem, with the England winger slipping the ball to Sturridge, who in turn found Robinho unmarked as he approached the penalty area. Again, the Brazil forward made no mistake with his finish.
City could have called it a day at that point, but they seemed determined to keep punishing Stoke. Wright-Phillips was relentless while Ireland had the vision to match his diligence and only a lack of composure prevented the midfield player from adding a fourth at the death.
JAMES DUCKER WRITING FOR THE TIMES 27TH OCTOBER 2008