Barry demands perfect finish

Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry accepts there is no room for error in the title race following Saturday evening's 1-1 draw at Stoke.

City regained top spot in the Premier League by coming from behind to draw 1-1 at the Britannia, but the two dropped points could prove crucial.

Roberto Mancini's men lead Manchester United only on goal difference and their rivals could move three points clear if they beat Fulham in their game in hand on Monday.

Nevertheless if City win all their remaining eight games including the derby against United on April 30 they will still be crowned champions - as long as they stay ahead on goal difference - and because of that Barry wants to view the latest result positively.

The 31-year-old said: "We are disappointed because we wanted to win the game but we have got to look at the big picture now and concentrate on the next eight games.

"We were a bit deflated in the dressing room but we have gone a goal down here, which is a really tough place to come, and come back to get a point which keeps us in touching distance.

"It is important now we keep it to no more than the three points for when we do play Manchester United.

"We can't be relying on other teams - we have got to try to win all our games from now until the end of the season.

"That is our target. It is going to be really tough but while it is in our hands it is still possible. We are confident we can do that."

City could have gone two points ahead with victory but they have not won at the Britannia Stadium since Stoke were promoted to the top flight in 2008.

Mancini had predicted a physical game and so it proved as the Potters fought hard throughout and prevented City imposing themselves.

Their task became even harder after Stoke claimed the lead with a goal-of-the-season contender from Peter Crouch just before the hour.

The striker headed on a long clearance from Asmir Begovic, flicked up a return header from Jermaine Pennant and then twisted to volley a sensational shot over Joe Hart from 25 yards.

"You have got to hold your hands up," said Barry. "It was an unstoppable strike.

"Joe was disappointed to concede it but there is nothing you can do about it.

"It should be goal of the season. It is just one of those things, it was unstoppable."

Yaya Toure replied with a fine effort of his own, finding the net from long range 14 minutes from time via a deflection off Ryan Shawcross.

Toure went close to a late winner but Stoke also had their moments in the game, not least when Pablo Zabaleta cleared a glancing header from Shawcross off the line.

The game's other major talking point occurred midway through the first half when David Silva required treatment to a head wound after being caught by the arm of Dean Whitehead in an aerial challenge.

Referee Howard Webb spoke to Whitehead but did not produce a card.

Such was Mancini's anger after this and other incidents in a hard-fought game that he did not speak to media post-match, passing duties to his assistant David Platt.

Barry said: "The game was exactly as we expected and as we have had the last few years we have come here. It was a tough battle.

"It [Silva's] was a nasty little cut - I think he [Whitehead] caught him with his elbow so I was very surprised not to see a yellow card.

"But Howard's the best referee in England so we have got to give him the benefit of the doubt.

"I think overall we definitely had the better chances.

"We should have won with the chances we had, if we had kept a cooler head when they came for us."

City's recent away form has been costly with just two wins in nine games on the road.

Barry said: "It is really hard to pick anything out.

"It was always going to be tough to keep the blistering start we had going, the run we had was fantastic.

"People were saying we were unstoppable but it is such a long season, it is tough to keep that going.

"We have got eight games now, we must try to win them all."

City's top scorer Sergio Aguero did not play due to an ankle injury but is expected to be fit to face Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium next week.