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Sun 26 Oct 2008 11:34 PM

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Robinho treble too much for Stoke

Man City earns its first win in a month as the Brazilian super-signing does the business in front of home crowd. 

Robinho helped himself to a hat-trick as Manchester City ended their month-long wait for a Premier League victory by cruising to a 3-0 win against Stoke on Sunday.

The Brazil striker, a 32.5 million-pound ($51.7 million) British record buy from Real Madrid on Sept. 1, took his City goals tally to six in eight games with a virtuoso performance at Eastlands.

But Robinho was helped greatly by the skills of City youngsters Ched Evans and Daniel Sturridge, who both created goals for their expensive team-mate in the absence of flu victim Jo.

City's league form since the arrival of their new owners from Abu Dhabi at the start of September has been unimpressive to say the least, with just one victory in five games and points thrown away in the last two outings against Liverpool and Newcastle.

So the visit of promoted Stoke offered Mark Hughes's team the opportunity to begin to live up to the hype and justify the talk of an eventual challenge for Champions League football next season.

Stoke's form away from home prior to this clash - just one point from four games - highlighted their frailties and City certainly knew they had to deliver the goods against Tony Pulis's men.

The tone was set as early as the third minute, though, when Robinho forced a fine save from Thomas Sorensen with a left-foot strike which the Danish keeper tipped behind at the near post.

City's bright start was rewarded in the 14th minute when Robinho gave the home side a deserved lead after being teed up by the Welsh youngster Evans.

Elano's knockdown from Shaun Wright-Phillips's cross found Evans on the penalty spot, but the forward resisted the temptation to shoot and instead fed the unmarked Robinho, who beat Sorensen with a low strike from six yards.

Newly-promoted Stoke responded well to falling behind, though, and City keeper Joe Hart, who signed a five-year contract at the club prior to the game, highlighted his potential with a full-length save to keep out Ricardo Fuller's deflected strike three minutes after Robinho's opener.

England Under-21 keeper Hart then topped that save when he denied Ryan Shawcross with a reflex block to keep out the Stoke defender's bullet header from Fuller's corner shortly before half-time.

With the injured Evans replaced by Sturridge shortly before half-time, Robinho had to develop a quick understanding with the teenage frontman.

But their performance in the second-half suggested that they had played together for years as 19-year-old Sturridge produced two sublime passes to create the chances from which Robinho claimed his second and third goals.

The first of those, in the 47th minute, came when Sturridge raced down the right flank before slipping Robinho through in the penalty area. With only Sorensen to beat, Robinho made no mistake.

And the pair linked again in the 72nd minute when Wright-Phillips's pass to Sturridge on the edge of the penalty area resulted in the young forward spotting the unmarked Robinho inside the box.

Once more, with the goal at his mercy, the Brazilian did what he does best by slotting the ball past the exposed Sorensen to cap a comfortable win.

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