Yaya condemns Stoke to defeat
February 22md 15:00
Stoke suffered a repeat of their FA Cup final heartbreak when yet again a single Yaya Toure goal was enough to condemn the Potters to defeat.
Mark Hughes` men went in to the game as massive underdogs but they put in a very spirited performance at the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City`s home record is phenomenal and many predicted a comfortable afternoon for the title chasing side but they were made to work very hard for the three points by a resilient and resolute Stoke side.
It was a back to the wall showing from the visitors but they more than held their own in the first half counter attacking well and looking dangerous as well as solid defensively. Despite large periods of possession in the opening period the home side failed to really test Asmir Begovic. Fernandinho had a shot from 20 yards that was easily tipped over the bar and Toure wasted the best opportunity when neat interplay released him in to the penalty area but he could only blaze his shot way over.
It was Stoke who went closing to breaking the deadlock in a tight first half, Charlie Adam with a trademark strike from the edge of the area produced a fantastic one handed save from City keeper Joe Hart.
The second half was much of the same as the home side dominated possession but struggled to break Stoke down, Stoke were dogged and refused to lie down. The back four repelled attack after attack from Pellegrini`s men. City had barely created an opening until Stoke finally cracked in the 70th minute. One lapse in defensive concentration and Toure was left free just six yards out and forced the cross under Begovic`s body. It was hard on the Potters who had dared to dream of a fantastic point.
The result never looked in doubt after the opening goal and it should have been two when Dzeko somehow managed to miss the ball with the goal gaping, the Bosnian with a definite contender for miss of the season.
Stephen Ireland had a late opportunity to grab a point for the visitors but he could only volley wide when he really should have tested Joe Hart.
A disappointing result for the Potters but Mark Hughes declared himself pleased with the spirit and determination his side showed and the travelling supporters showed they agreed when they gave the players a fantastic reception at the final whistle.
Stoke can take many positives from a battling away performance as they head into another tough test at home to Arsenal next week, then on into a pivotal March when they face a run of fixtures against teams in and around them in the table. March is a month that may well decide whether the Potters push on into the top half or face a relegation scrap, however if perform with the heart and desire that was on show at the Etihad, then supporters can be confident of a strong end to the season.