TWO-GOAL Carlos Tevez dashed Stoke City's hopes of avenging their FA Cup Final heartache as Manchester City boosted their hopes of claiming third spot in the Barclays Premier League with an emphatic victory at the City of Manchester Stadium.
The little Argentinian struck two stunning goals either side of a Joleon Lescott header to break down City's gallant resistance and leave them needing a victory in their final game on Sunday to improve upon last season's finish in the Premier League table.
With a number of key figures either missing through injury or rested for the Wigan Athletic match, the Potters were always going to be up against it with Roberto Mancini's side chasing the victory which would move them above Arsenal in the Champions League spots.
Tevez conjured his first goal out of nothing with some neat footwork in the 14th minute and he curled home a free kick early in the second half after Lescott had headed home an Adam Johnson free kick to put the home side firmly in the driving seat.
As expected, Pulis made a number of changes to his FA Cup Final line-up with Huth, Pennant and Etherington all absent, while Delap and Jones dropped to the bench.
There was however a place for Sorensen as reward for his excellent display at Wembley, while there were call-ups for Whitehead, Pugh, Diao, Collins and Carew.
Mancini also made three changes to his Cup Final side, recalling Zabaleta, Johnson and Milner at the expense of Kolarov, Barry and Balotelli.
With Diao anchoring the midfield alongside Whelan and Whitehead, the Potters were hoping to minimise the threat that came from City in that area at Wembley.
But although they had a considerable amount of possession from the start, the home side were still able to carve out openings whenever they stepped up a gear.
When De Jong launched a long ball forward to the edge of the Potters box, Tevez chested it down and fired the first attempt at goal, but it flew over the bar.
Tevez was in the thick of things in the eleventh minute when he collected a Milner pass and flicked it back into the England midfielder's path as he burst into the box, but he sliced his shot well wide of the target under pressure from the onrushing Collins.
The Potters were having to defend bravely to stay on level terms and Shawcross made a vital interception when Richards drilled over a low cross to the far post.
But the breakthrough came in the 14th minute and predictably enough it was Tevez who conjured a chance out of nothing to fire his rising shot out of Sorensen's reach. The Argentinian's nimble footwork wrongfooted Shawcross and Wilkinson to create the space.
City's first real threat came at the midway point of the first half when Walters sent over a deep cross from the right which Hart casually palmed out only as far as Carew whose goalbound shot hit Richards in the face and flew to safety.
The home side were probing for another opening and Silva slipped a ball through to Johnson in a central position, but Sorensen was off his line to collect.
A menacing burst through the middle from Toure opened the way for another chance as Johnson flicked his pass onto Tevez, but his attempt to curl the ball past Sorensen with the outside of his foot landed quite comfortably in the arms of the 'keeper.
Whelan then worked his way into a shooting position and tried his luck from 25 yards out which failed to trouble Hart to any great extent.
As the half drew to a close, Walters got away down the right and sent over a cross in the direction of Pugh who chose the wrong option when making his run into the six-yard box and he was unable to get on the end of a good opportunity.
The half-time break brought little respite for the Potters as Mancini's side began the second half looking to put the issue beyond all doubt.
After a period of stout defending, their backline was eventually breached when the home side were awarded a free kick for a foul by Collins on Richards, although television replays seemed to support his protest that he never touched the defender.
When the free kick was lifted into the box by the left foot of Johnson, Lescott rose above the outcoming Sorensen to head home.
Mancini made a tactical switch by sending on Dzeko in place of Silva, and in the home side's next attack they claimed their third goal.
Whelan was guilty of a foul on this occasion as City swept forward in numbers again and Tevez curled his shot round the wall and into the top corner, leaving Sorensen with no chance whatsoever as he tried to get across to such a precise finish.
It could have got worse for the Potters moments later when Dzeko made room for himself on the left hand edge of the box to unleash a shot which glanced off the upright.
It was now a case of damage limitation for Pulis' side and he opted to make two changes by bringing on Delap and Shotton to replace Carew and Whelan.
But there was no stopping the home side as they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box as Diao was booked for bringing down Milner.
City skipper Tevez, looking for his hat-trick, took the free kick and once again tried to curl it inside Sorensen's left hand post, but this time his effort was marginally off target.
The home side went close to a fourth goal when Milner swung over a corner from the right hand side and Dzeko headed over the bar from close range.
City were relieved to hear the final whistle, but just as their hosts had played Delilah before the start of the game as mark of respect to the players and supporters, Pulis' men were given warm applause as they left the field at the end of the game.