Stoke 1 Manchester City 1

Barclay’s Premier League
Saturday 27 November 2010, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Richards, K Touré, Kompany, Kolarov, de Jong, Milner (A Johnson 82), Barry, Silva, Balotelli (Jo 90), Tevez (c)
Unused: Given, Lescott, Boateng, Vieira, Wright-Phillips
Goals: Richards (81)
Booked: Tevez, Richards

Referee: Peter Walton
Man of the Match: David Silva

It was the home side who began the game the brighter, with a long throw in from Rory Delap being dealt with comfortably by Joe Hart as he caught under pressure from Fuller and Jones. Balotelli then had a poor touch in the Stoke area as City tried to get the early goal.

Hart was in action again soon after, punching away another long throw in, before City gave the ball away in midfield and he needed to be alert to make a great double-save, first with his legs from Fuller and then his hands from Jones.

With 15 minutes gone, a neat one-two between Fuller and Jones left the former through on goal, but he dragged his left-footed shot well wide, when he probably should have given the home side the lead.

De Jong was then dispossessed in midfield by Delap and, fortunately for the visitors, Jones couldn’t take advantage. Another Delap long throw in then caused trouble in the City box, with Hart missing the punch and Huth volleying over.

City almost had the chance to take the lead, largely against the run of play it would have had to have been said, as some great skill from Silva allowed him to cut in from the left flank, but his cross was just too high for Tevez.

The visitors had a strong claim for a penalty soon after, as Milner looked to have been felled in the box by two Stoke defenders, but the referee wasn’t having any of it. Hart was then called into action again, making a comfortable save from Fuller.

With ten minutes to go before half time, City seemed to have found their feet and were getting themselves back into the game. Kolarov had a shot from range, but it bobbled through to Begovic in the Stoke goal, who saved comfortably.

It took a great challenge from Touré in the area to deny Jones after Fuller had won the ball in midfield and the home side broke. Kolarov was then denied a free kick on the edge of the Stoke box, as he went down under pressure.

City finished the half the stronger as a poor backpass almost let Tevez in, but Begovic was off his line sharply to clear. From the resulting throw in, Tevez, Silva and Balotelli caused all kinds of problems in the six yard box, but nobody could put the ball in the net in the scramble.

City began the second half in control of the game. They were keeping possession well and knocking the ball around the edge of the Stoke box, without truly threatening. Silva had a go with his left, but sliced it wide, before Balotelli hit a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box.

Hart held an effort from Fuller, before Begovic did the same to a fierce Milner effort from range. Wilson then went into the referee’s book for a lunge at Barry and he was perhaps lucky the punishment wasn’t more severe.

Tevez was then unlucky to go into the book for a challenge on Begovic, as he tried to block the ball as the Stoke keeper cleared it, before Balotelli, somehow, didn’t get a touch on a Kolarov low cross through the six yard box.

Some great possession play from City opened up a shooting chance for Kolarov from the edge of the box, but it was on his right foot and he skied it over the bar. Stoke then had a dangerous breakaway blocked for a corner by Kompany.

From that corner, Shawcross got up before Hart and nodded towards goal. But Milner was on the post and was able to clear off the line, before the ball went into the net. The Stoke players claimed the goal and a handball, but it was neither, as he used his thigh to get the ball away.

Silva then had a shot well wide, with Barry trying to get a touch to steer it towards the net, before City took the lead with a piece of brilliant from, of all people, Micah Richards. It was a brilliant turn from the right back on the edge of the Stoke box, setting himself up with a shooting chance and he directed the ball past Begovic and into the net.

City tried to play keep-ball for the final ten minutes and it was all looking good, despite a free kick from the Stoke left being headed over Hart’s goal being a warning shot. Unfortunately for the visitors, it wasn’t a warning they heeded and a backheel from Tuncay, as he controlled a long ball on the edge of the box, sent Etherington through and he fired past Joe Hart and into the net, with 90 seconds of stoppage time to play.

Overall, a point was probably a fair result, but having taken the lead with ten minutes to play, City will be disappointed that they haven’t taken all three. On a day with United and Arsenal wins, it could have been a costly goal to concede, with City now five points off the top.

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