Stoke City: We handled the champions well, says keeper Begovic
NOBODY prayed harder than Asmir Begovic in those frantic few seconds between Edin Dzeko chipping goalwards and Ryan Shawcross clearing off the line.
For Begovic had gambled and failed in tearing towards Dzeko in a desperate bid to reach the ball first.
Begovic's anguish was all the more acute because Dzeko's passport also has Bosnia stamped on the first page.
But he need not have worried as Shawcross ripped through the gears to reach the line in the nick of time and hook clear with his left foot.
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"I was thinking 'Oh God,'" Begovic confessed afterwards as he re-lived the moment he was lobbed by Dzeko with virtually the last kick of the game.
"But thankfully Ryan got the ball in time for a great clearance.
"I think his performance speaks for itself. He turns in a solid performance week-in, week-out and that's all you can ask for.
"It was always going to be the toughest game of the season against the champions. It was a big game for us and I think we did ourselves proud.
"We wanted an early goal, which we got, but unfortunately they can peg you back and we went a bit sloppy. But overall we did well and we can be proud."
Begovic acknowledged the part played by Yaya Toure in Manchester's midfield as he frequently powered forward in the latter stages to threaten a winner.
"He's a big part of their team and so you need to close him down. But once we decided to pressure their whole team we were pretty strong and caused them trouble."
Stoke go to Stamford Bridge next weekend still seeking that elusive first league win after drawing their first four fixtures for the first time in the club's history.
Begovic observed: "I think we can be satisfied, but obviously we want to get into winning ways and hopefully we can do that against Chelsea.
"Steven Nzonzi was absolutely different class and, with Michael Owen and others coming in, I think we can look forward to a good season."
And with a glance towards a subs' bench which didn't have room on Saturday for Kenwyne Jones, Jermaine Pennant, Rory Delap, Wilson Palacios, Maurice Edu and Ryan Shotton, Begovic added: "It makes a difference when they come on. We can go from strength to strength, rather than just hanging on."