FA Cup Final
Saturday 14 April 2011, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Barry (A Johnson 73), de Jong, Y Touré, Silva (Vieira 90), Balotelli, Tevez (c) (Zabaleta 89)
Unused: Given, Boyata, Milner, Dzeko
Goals: Y Touré (74)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: Nigel de Jong
With the City fans hoping for the chance to tear down the banner at Old Trafford and the Stoke fans hoping for their first ever FA Cup final victory, the nerves were high at the start of the game. But it was City who settled the quickest. The first corner of the game was flicked away after Richards tried to get a header in towards goal, before Tevez forced a decent save from Sorensen with a low shot to his right.
With 11 minutes played, Yaya Touré had a pop from 30 yards and the ball looked to burst the net until, at the last moment, it swerved away from the goal and whistled millimetres wide of the post, with Sorensen desperately flinging himself towards the shot.
The first Delap long throw in came to nothing, as the City defence dealt well with the set piece, after Balotelli had had a shot blocked and de Jong had fired a shot over, as City dominated the opening stages. Hart then came to collect a Pennant free kick and Huth was lucky to stay on the pitch for a loose elbow in a challenge with Balotelli.
Balotelli forced a wonderful save from Sorensen as he flicked the Italian’s goalbound effort around the post when it looked destined for the top corner. Kompany then forced the Stoke keeper into another good save, after the City centre back had picked up the loose pieces from Silva and taken the shot on from the edge of the box.
The City fans were beginning to wonder if it was going to be their day, as their side continued to dominate the game, but couldn’t seem to take one of their many chances. Silva missed the most guilt edged of them all in the first half, as it rebounded from Sorensen to his left foot and, with virtually an open goal in front of him, he volleyed the ball into the floor and it bounced over the bar.
Kolarov then skied a free kick on the edge of the box, after Huth had brought down Richards, before Kompany was in the right place to block from Jones, as one of Stoke’s isolated chances could have spelled danger for the blues.
The second half started much in a similar way to how the first half ended. Kolarov wasted a good chance when in behind the Stoke defence and he chose to smash the ball at the near post to go for glory, when there were options waiting for the pull back on the edge of the box. Hart was then needed to deny Jones, after he gave Lescott the slip, and the City keeper was out quickly to smother the shot.
And, as it looked like the game was going to be frustrating for City, the breakthrough came. The ball was played low into the box and it looked like the chance had gone, until it broke to Yaya Touré eight yards out. The Ivorian put his foot through it and gave City the lead right in front of their own fans, just as he did in the semi final.
David Silva could have finished the game off for City, but the ball fell to the Spaniard’s right foot inside the box and, in checking the ball back onto his left foot, he lost the opportunity to find a finish. And then came the Stoke onslaught: a series of corners in added time had City scrambling to get the ball clear. Sorensen joined the attack and Hart had to come off his line to punch away, before Vieira was in the right place to make a crucial block.
Despite the late pressure, Stoke couldn’t force another shooting chance and City were able to see out the remaining time to take their first trophy in 35 years and celebrate with their own imitation banner from the Stretford End. The celebrations were just beginning in the stands, as Carlos Tevez lifted the FA Cup for Manchester City.