Manchester: Carlos Tevez scored twice as Manchester City beat Stoke 3-0 on Tuesday to go third in the Premier League table and leave themselves in prime position for direct entry into the Champions League.
Joleon Lescott scored the other goal as City inflicted fresh misery upon Stoke -- the team they beat 1-0 in Saturday's FA Cup final.
More importantly, it meant City leapfrogged Arsenal into third place in the table with just Sunday's final round of Premier League matches left.
Although England's top four clubs qualify for the Champions League, if City beat Bolton this weekend they will go straight into the tournament proper and avoid playing in August's qualifying round, where the likes of Bayern Munich and Villarreal could lie in wait.
There have been reports all season long that Tevez will be on his way out of Eastlands but City fans, fresh from seeing their club win a first major trophy in 35 years last weekend, will hope desperately they are untrue after another brilliant display by the Argentina striker.
Tevez gave City a 14th minute lead when, following a one-two with England midfielder James Milner, he turned a couple of Stoke defenders inside-out before unleashing a fierce drive.
The game stayed at 1-0 until the second half, giving Stoke the prospect of getting back into the game.
But, unlike in the Cup final, City doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Lescott headed home Adam Johnson's free-kick after getting in front of goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
Tevez put the result beyond doubt in the 65th minute with a brilliant curling free-kick from some 30 yards.
Now Roberto Mancini's expensively assembled side know that so long as they, at the very least, match the result of Arsenal, who have a tricky last day encounter away to London rivals Fulham, they are guaranteed to finish third.