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Sergio Aguero's double guides Man City to 4-1 win at Stoke as champions rediscover form

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STOKE, England — Manchester City rediscovered its form to thrash Stoke 4-1 in the Premier League on Wednesday, with star striker Sergio Aguero ending a rare lean patch with a goal in each half at the Britannia Stadium.

Midfielders James Milner and Samir Nasri also found the net as City turned on the style in the second half to end a five-match winless run stretching back to Jan. 1.

Aguero, who had gone six games without a goal, gave City the lead in the 33rd minute with a low shot that was cancelled out by a header from Stoke striker Peter Crouch five minutes later.

Stoke couldn't handle City after the break, with Milner scoring a header in the 55th, Aguero converting a 70th-minute penalty after David Silva was fouled, and Nasri completing victory in the 76th.

League leader Chelsea's last-gasp winner against Everton kept its cushion to second-place City to seven points, but it was a night when the champions showed they won't be giving up their title easily.

Stoke is traditionally one of the toughest places to win and City had never previously won in six visits to the Britannia Stadium. Indeed, Stoke won at Etihad Stadium earlier this season.

Yet, by the end, City was creating chances with ease and the margin of victory could have been more for a side that has struggled to score in recent weeks.

PHOTO: Manchester City's Samir Nasri, left, and David Silva celebrate towards fans after James Milner scored against Stoke during the English Premier League soccer match between Stoke City and Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium, in Stoke on Trent, England, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Manchester City's Samir Nasri, left, and David Silva celebrate towards fans after James Milner scored against Stoke during the English Premier League soccer match between Stoke City and Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium, in Stoke on Trent, England, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

"It is not easy to score four at Stoke," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. "For me, it is the hardest team to score against.

"We are always an attacking team and in the second half we scored three goals and had more chances. I am very happy."

Aguero's opener was testament to the Argentina striker's tenacity as he seized on a long clearance, ran at Marc Muniesa and finished with a superb low shot across goal.

Stoke replied quickly when Marko Arnautovic curled in a wicked cross from the right and Crouch stooped as he slid in to guide home a header.

Aguero was denied a second goal just before the interval when he was adjudged to have pushed the ball in the net with his hand from Silva's cross.

If City and Aguero felt wronged, they soon put it right. Milner made no mistake with his head as he rose to meet Nasri's cross 10 minutes into the second half.

City went further ahead when Silva proved too tricky for Geoff Cameron and was pulled down. Aguero dispatched the spot kick.

Nasri drove at the Stoke defence, checked inside on the edge of the area and fired a shot across goal and in at the far post for City's fourth.

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PHOTO: Stoke's Peter Crouch, right, celebrates with Victor Moses after scoring against Manchester City during the English Premier League soccer match between Stoke City and Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium, in Stoke on Trent, England, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
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