Match Report: Stoke City 1 Manchester City 1
STOKE CITY 1 (Crouch, 15)
MANCHESTER CITY 1 (Garcia, 35)
RYAN Shawcross's 93rd-minute goalline clearance denied league champions Manchester City in a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium this afternoon.
Stoke were well worth a point, but were almost beaten in injury time when first Asmir Begovic pulled off a superb save to deny Edin Dzeko before, just one minute later, Shawcross pulled off the last-gasp clearance to deny the striker.
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Roberto Mancini's side were on the ropes when Peter Crouch barged his way through their defence to fire Stoke in front on 15 minutes. The England striker handled the ball on his way through, but that wasn't spotted by the officials before Crouch placed the ball past the helpless Joe Hart.
However, a rare defensive error from Tony Pulis's team allowed Javi Garcia to head home the equaliser on 35 minutes.
Tony Pulis gave a debut to Steven Nzonzi, who partnered Glenn Whelan in central midfield, but new signing Michael Owen started on the bench before coming on to a tremendous reception in the 90th minute.
Stoke began in their usual 4-4-1-1 formation, with Charlie Adam on the left of midfield and Jon Walters as the deep lying striker.
However, that quickly changed as Walters moved to the right wing, Michael Kightly swapped flanks to the left and Adam was pushed up to play behind Crouch.
The visitors enjoyed plenty of early possession and went close when Carlos Tevez bustled to the edge of the area before curling a shot just wide.
But Stoke took the lead on 15 minutes after Nzonzi won a corner on the left. Adam sent the ball to the back post from where Walters hooked it back into the middle. Crouch brought down the ball before bursting through two challenges and slotting the ball home in front of the visiting supporters.
The visitors almost hit back on 22 minutes when Yaya Toure turned sharply in the area, but the former Barcelona midfielder swept his shot over from 12 yards.
Toure curled a free kick just wide from 30 yards on the half hour, but there was no escape for Stoke five minutes later when the midfielder won a free kick on the left.
Tevez curled the ball into the area and Javi Garcia rose unmarked to glance a header past Asmir Begovic.
Stoke looked in trouble when Tevez's crossfield pass picked out Maicon unmarked on the right of the area, but his volley was pushed away by Begovic at the foot of his near post.
Stoke City 1 Manchester City 1
Kightly's shot was blocked in the area by Maicon as Stoke began the second half brightly. Garcia was booked for a foul on Kightly on 55 minutes as Stoke refused to allow the visitors to settle on the ball.
Owen received a standing ovation as he warmed up on 60 minutes , but attention was soon back on the pitch.
Toure pounced on a loose ball just inside the area, on 63 minutes, but his shot was blocked by Begovic who had come flying off his line.
Gareth Barry replaced Tevez a minute later before Tony Pulis responded with a change of his own as Matthew Etherington came on for Kightly on 69 minutes.
David Silva came on for Scott Sinclair on 74 minutes before Balotelli collapsed after a tussle with Wilkinson. However, neither the referee of his officials thought there was a foul.
The visitors began to enjoy more possession, but couldn't pick their way through a well-organised Stoke side.
Pulis made his second change as Adam was replaced by Geoff Cameron in midfield on 85 minutes.
Nasri's 20-yard rocket-shot was beaten away by Begovic on 88 minutes, before Owen made his Stoke debut as a 90th-minute substitute for Crouch.
Balotelli was replaced by Dzeko for the three minutes of injury time before the visitors almost snatched victory in the 92nd-minute. Dzeko met Silva's corner with a powerful header but Begovic produced a stunning reflex save low to his right.
Dzeko almost won it again moments later when he ran on to a ball over the defence and lifted the ball over the onrushing Begovic.
The ball was heading goalwards but Shawcross sprinted back to hook the ball clear with only inches to spare.
STOKE CITY: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Walters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Kightly (Etherington, 69), Adam (Cameron, 85), Crouch (Owen, 90).
Subs: Sorensen, Whitehead, Upson, Jerome.
MANCHESTER CITY: Hart, Maicon, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Nasri, Garcia, Y Toure, Sinclair (Silva, 74), Tevez (Barry, 64), Balotelli (Dzeko, 90).
Subs: Wright, Kolarov, Rodwell, K Toure.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg