Stoke bow out of Capital One cup
18th December 2013 7.45pm
Stoke bowed out at the quarter final stage of the Capital One Cup, on a night when most of the excitement came as a freakish hailstorm hit the Britannia.
United ran out deserved winners in a game which in truth never really got going.
Mark Hughes fielded a strong side with the only notable absentees Asmir Begovic, Steven Nzonzi and Marko Arnautovic, and in truth the absence of Nzonzi in centre midfield seemed to affect the flow of the Potters play.
It was United who started off strongly with pantomime villain Ashley Young firing an early shot just wide of the Stoke goal.
The atmosphere in the Britannia seemed a bit flat early on, possibly down to the traffic congestion outside, as the main noise was coming from the away end.
Geoff Cameron again provided Stoke's main attacking threat as he fizzed a shot over De Gea's bar, but the main event of the game followed in the 29th minute.
As the heavens opened a ferocious stormed hit and combined with the inevitable wind that fans have become accustomed to left referee Mark Clattenburg with no choice but to take the players off and find shelter. Very few seemed to argue other than Jon Walters who appeared genuinely disappointed as he ambled off the pitch.
When the players did reappear the rest of the first half passed without too many attacking chances for either side and at the break the score was 0-0.
As the second half begun a figure appeared from the United bench who seems to enjoy faces Stoke more than most. On came Javier Hernandez, and his impact was almost immediate. His movement and touch allowed Young to stride forward and release a powerful strike that flew past Sorensen and into the Stoke net.
It was a killer blow for the Potters as you sensed they really needed to grab the first goal. Hughes had already brought on Arnautovic, but it was Jon Walters who had the best chance of the night but he lacked conviction when he flicked his foot at a cross and it went harmlessly wide.
Then an injury to captain Shawcross, which will be a major concern to Hughes who is already without Robert Huth at this busy time of year. He was replaced by Charlie Adam which seemed to confuse the Potters and almost immediately United took advantage and put the game to bed with a lovely Patrice Evra finish.
Stoke had missed their opportunity and the fans knew it as they filtered towards the exits on what in truth was a disappointing performance.
Stoke City: Sorensen, Cameron, Pieters, Shawcross (Adam, 76), Wilson, Walters, Palacios, Whelan, Ireland, Assaidi (Arnautovic, 62), Crouch. Subs not used: Begovic, Muniesa, Pennant, Jones, Wilkinson.
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Smalling, Evans, Valencia, Jones, Cleverley, Anderson (Hernandez, 58), Young, Welbeck (Fletcher, 82). Subs not used: Johnstone, Nani, Kagawa, Buttner, Zaha.