Aguero scores, comes off in Man City's easy win
MANCHESTER, England (AP) -Argentina striker Sergio Aguero endured a bittersweet first match of 2013 for Manchester City, rounding off the scoring in a routine 3-0 win over Stoke before giving the champions a scare by going off injured.
Aguero converted a 74th-minute penalty, adding to goals by compatriot Pablo Zabaleta and fellow forward Edin Dzeko, to ensure Stoke's 10-match unbeaten run in the Premier League came to a crushing end at the Etihad Stadium.
However, Aguero was forced off three minutes later, clutching his right hamstring, after pulling up sharply as he ran.
That was the only negative on City's day as Roberto Mancini's second-place team stayed seven points behind Manchester United in the title race.
Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic worked wonders to keep Stoke in the game before Zabaleta's gola, coming out on top in his private duel with Aguero.
The striker was presented with four gilt-edged chances in the opening 33 minutes, but was denied three times by brilliant Begovic saves while also firing over.
It was left to Aguero's compatriot to calm the nerves of an increasingly frustrated City faithful, Zabaleta finding himself in the perfect position to slot home from seven yards after Begovic intercepted James Milner's cross from the right.
Thereafter, it was a matter of when, rather than if, City would add to its lead and the second goal arrived through Dzeko, tapping into an empty net following Begovic's latest save from Aguero.
With an eighth home win in 11 matches secure, City became more slack and Stoke threatened from a couple set pieces but the home defense - containing the recalled Joleon Lescott - held firm.
And Aguero finally got the goal his all-round performance deserved when he converted a penalty after David Silva was fouled by Steven Nzonzi, although contact appeared to be made just outside the area. However, that was Aguero's last meaningful contribution as he limped off soon after.
Glenn Whelan had a shot tipped onto the post by goalkeeper Joe Hart late on as City kept a clean sheet.