Manchester City outclassed in 2-0 loss at Stoke in Premier League

AP , Saturday 5 Dec 2015

Stoke City
Stoke City's Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic (L) celebrates with Stoke City's Swiss forward Xherdan Shaqiri (C) and Stoke City's Spanish striker Bojan Krkic after scoring his second goal during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England on December 5, 2015 (Photo: AFP)

Manchester City was blown away in a 2-0 loss to Stoke at a wind-swept Britannia Stadium on Saturday, with Marko Arnautovic scoring a first-half double against the outclassed Premier League leaders.

Austria forward Arnautovic scored in the seventh and 15th minutes from assists by Xherdan Shaqiri as Stoke exploited poor defending by City, which was without Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany because of injury.

It was City's third loss in its last five games in all competitions — and fourth of its league campaign — to fuel concerns about the team's shortcomings when its star players are missing.

Playing expansive football at times, Stoke handled the windy conditions better and could easily have won by a bigger margin. Arnautovic hit the post when put clean through for his hat trick.

Stoke also had playmaker Shaqiri, who set up both goals with superb individual quality, and goalkeeper Jack Butland, who produced two decent first-half saves, to thank for an impressive victory. At times, Stoke outplayed City with an unexpected brand of entertaining football.

City lacked urgency and was picked off by Stoke's lively attackers. Shaqiri shrugged off Fernandinho, beat left back Aleksandar Kolarov with some nifty footwork and sent in a cross that Arnautovic met with a half-volley for the opener.

Shaqiri then turned holding midfielder Fernando and delivered a perfect through-ball that Arnautovic ran onto and slipped a low finish past Joe Hart to make it 2-0.

Arnautovic headed into the side-netting and then struck a shot against the post after springing the offside trap, as City's defense kept giving away chances.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini made three changes early in the second half but they didn't change the course of the game. The team finished with 10 men after Fernando pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury and all substitutions already used.

City has now gone four away games without a win in the league.

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