City boss: 4-0 win best prep for Real clash
MANUEL Pellegrini hailed the perfect preparation for Manchester City as they routed Stoke 4-0 ahead of their Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid tomorrow.
His side cruised back into third place in the Premier League and nearer guaranteed qualification for next season's Champions League with a dominant display at Eastlands on Saturday.
And they were also able to rest key players in readiness for the visit of 10-time European champions Real to Manchester.
"It was very important to have our mind focused on this game and not on (tomorrow)," Pellegrini said.
"But we play eight games in 30 days so it was also very important to have some rotations."
Pellegrini left out Fernandinho and captain Vincent Kompany but both will be available tomorrow. Kompany is in full training following his comeback from a month out with his latest calf injury - in last Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Newcastle.
The City boss was also able to leave both Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling on the bench as City strolled to a fourth win in five league games thanks to goals from Fernando, a Sergio Aguero penalty and Kelechi Iheanacho's second-half double.
City will face Real on the back of one of their best runs of the season, with Iheanacho's two goals taking his tally for the season to 11 and giving Pellegrini the added option of a further in-form striker for City's first-ever Champions League semi-final.
The 19-year-old, who now has five league goals in just four starts this season, looks to have a bright future and is in City's Champions League squad after replacing the injured Samir Nasri ahead of the knock-out rounds.
"He scored two goals and received a penalty. I am very pleased. He has a very important contribution, and not just for this game," Pellegrini said.
Stoke have now won just one of their last seven games to slip out of contention for a place in next season's Europa League.
"We are disappointed with the performance and the scoreline," manager Mark Hughes said.
"But it would be wrong to define our season on what we are producing at the moment." AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE