August 20, 2016 7:45:02 pm
Sergio Aguero rediscovered his accuracy from the penalty spot in scoring one of his two goals for Manchester City in a 4-1 win at Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Argentina striker failed to score from two penalties in a Champions League playoff match on Tuesday, but converted a 27th-minute effort to set City on its way to a second straight league victory to open the season.
Aguero then headed in a whipped free kick by Kevin De Bruyne in the 36th for 2-0, making it six goals already this season for City’s star striker.
Bojan Krkic pulled a goal back for Stoke from the penalty spot in the 49th, and City fought to preserve its lead in the second half playing against the wind before substitute Nolito scored two late tap-ins.
Both of the penalties in the match given at corner-kick situations might not have been so readily awarded in previous years, but referees appear to be clamping down at the start of this season under new directives.
City got the first penalty when Stoke center back Ryan Shawcross was punished for pulling back Nicolas Otamendi, who had stolen a yard at a corner. Stoke’s penalty was perhaps softer, with winger Raheem Sterling adjudged to have impeded Shawcross as he attempted to mark the much taller defender without even looking at the ball.
City has won its first three matches under new manager Pep Guardiola _ two in the league and the 5-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League playoffs _ and Aguero, in particular, looks to be thriving under the Spanish coach.
He scored in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Sunderland that kicked off the Guardiola era, then a hat trick against Steaua despite missing twice from the spot.
Aguero retained penalty-taking duties and made no mistake to put City ahead against Stoke, sending former City goalkeeper Shay Given the wrong way. Aguero’s goal against Sunderland was also a penalty.
After Bojan reduced the deficit, Stoke’s players took a more direct route to put pressure on City’s defense with the wind behind them. Guardiola said Friday that playing at Stoke was the toughest away game in the Premier League, but City held firm.
Nolito, one of City’s eight offseason signings, came on for Jesus Navas in the 69th and clinched only City’s second win in nine Premier League trips to Stoke.
The Spain forward finished off from inside the six-yard box in the 86th after fellow substitute Kelechi Iheanacho broke through and rounded Given. Then, five minutes into stoppage time, Iheanacho dummied a long ball through and Sterling ran through, before passing sideways to Nolito who stroked the ball into an empty net.
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