- match commentary
- English FA Cup
- 26 January 2013, 12:45pm
- Britannia Stadium
- Attendance: 19,814
Pablo Zabaleta netted a late goal to fire Manchester City into the fifth round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Stoke City.
It looked like being a frustrating afternoon for Roberto Mancini's men in a repeat of the 2011 final, with Stoke battling hard but also enjoying good fortune when a bad foul by Glenn Whelan went unpunished by referee Howard Webb. But Man City, who lost Vincent Kompany to injury, grabbed a winner in the 85th minute as Zabaleta slotted a shot past Thomas Sorensen with the outside of his boot following a fast break.
Overnight snowfall at the Britannia Stadium left the ground staff with a lot of work to do in the morning to get the pitch ready for play, and Stoke were nearly caught cold when the game kicked off as Man City began brightly and Carlos Tevez tested Sorensen's reflexes with a firm shot from a tight angle. Edin Dzeko had an effort charged down by Ryan Shawcross, before David Silva came close to breaking the deadlock in the 20th minute with a curling shot which crashed off the post.
The presence of both Matthew Etherington and Michael Kightly in the Stoke line-up provided an extra threat down the flanks but, apart from one occasion when Shawcross had a goal disallowed for offside, stand-in Man City keeper Costel Pantilimon was not unduly troubled by the home side in the first half. Kompany signalled to the bench that he needed to come off before the break and the Potters appeared to grow in confidence, with the Blues reverting to three at the back as Gael Clichy came on after a lengthy period of thinking time by Mancini and David Platt.
The visitors continued to play more fluently than their opponents and Tevez should have done better when he fired wide at the back post following a slick attack. Stoke were lucky not to be reduced to ten men early in the second period as Whelan jumped in two-footed on Javi Garcia and caught the Spaniard on the ankle, but referee Webb did not even brandish a yellow. Aleksandar Kolarov was replaced by Sergio Aguero just after the hour mark and the Premier League champions started to commit more men forward, with Sorensen rushing off his line to deny Gareth Barry after he had been played in behind the Stoke defence by an exquisite pass from Silva.
Dzeko and Tevez shot wide and Cameron Jerome saw a weak effort held by Pantilimon as the match became stretched in the closing stages, and it was Man City who finally provided the cutting edge with five minutes remaining. Zabaleta struck with a fine finish to cap an impressive individual performance, and Man City held on in the final few minutes to end Stoke's FA Cup dreams.
FULL-TIME:Man City book their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup after Zabaleta's late goal sinks Stoke at the Brittania Stadium. It was a bit of a borefest for long periods, but Man City were the better side, created more chances and deserve to be in the last 16. Stoke huffed and puffed but lacked quality in the final third. Thanks for following our coverage.
90+4 mins:Man City almost catch their opponents on the break. Aguero chases a through ball, but Sorensen spots the danger and rushes a long way from his home to clear the danger.
90 mins:A long Shotton throw flicks off Crouch to Jerome, but the striker skies his shot from inside the box. Five minutes added on.
88 mins:Dzeko is booked for kicking the ball away after committing a foul on Shawcross.
86 mins:Mancini makes his final sub as Rodwell replaces Tevez.
85 mins: ZABALETA BREAKS THE DEADLOCK!The marauding full-back starts the move from inside his own half before Man City work the ball into the Stoke box. Aguero's low cross flicks off Dzeko into the path of an unmarked Zabaleta, who slams the ball with the outside of his right boot into the bottom corner from 10 yards out.
82 mins:Aguero cuts inside from the left into the box and pulls the trigger, but a Stoke body gets in the way of his shot.
79 mins:The tie is becoming more stretched as Etherington tries to break from the corner, but he's tripped by Milner who is booked.
78 mins:Man City are pressing forward as Aguero rifles a deflected shot into the side netting.
75 mins:Dzeko goes close for Man City as he bends a delicate shot around Sorensen, but the ball whistles wide of the far post. A corner is given so it must have taken a nick off a Stoke defender.
73 mins:Crouch and Whitehead replace Jones and Wilkinson for the home side.
70 mins:Walters gets on the end of a looping cross, but his header clears the crossbar. Stoke are preparing to make a couple more changes.
68 mins:The game is starting to open up as we approach the final quarter (gearing up for next week's Super Bowl). Tevez turns on the edge of the box but balloons his effort. He's not brought his shooting boots today.
66 mins:Stoke make their first sub as Jerome replaces Kightly.
64 mins:Silva clips a lovely ball over the defence to an unmarked Barry, but the midfielder tries to control it rather than shoot first time, allowing Sorensen to come out and bravely smother the ball.
63 mins:Attacking change for Man City as Aguero replaces Kolarov to join Tevez and Dzeko up front.
62 mins:Whelan tries his luck from 25 yards out, but his daisy-cutter is scooped up easily by Pantilimon.
60 mins:Decent chance for Man City as Dzeko darts down the right and swings in a dangerous cross. Kolarov rushes into the box past his marker, but he can't control his volley which he fires wide from 10 yards out.
57 mins:It's been a really scrappy start to the half as Tevez almost blasts a shot out of the stadium.
54 mins:Shotton is shown a yellow card for a strong tackle on Tevez. I didn't think there was much wrong with that. Not a great start to the half by referee Webb.
51 mins:Garcia is back on and is having a chat with Webb, obviously upset that Whelan wasn't punished for that shocking tackle.
49 mins:Man City force a corner after Dzeko's shot deflects wide, but Barry bullets his header over from near the penalty spot.
47 mins:Horrendous tackle by Whelan! The Stoke midfielder is lucky to be on the field after jumping in two-footed and landing on Garcia's ankle. It should be a red card but he doesn't even get a yellow. Webb was only a few metres away but must not have had a clear view. Garcia needs treatment which is hardly surprising.
46 mins:Stoke get us back going at the Brittania. No subs at the break. Let's hope for some more goalmouth action this half.
HALF-TIME:Stalemate at the Brittania. Man City have created the better chances with Silva coming closest when his curling effort cannoned off the inside of the post. The visitors, though, have been forced to replace Kompany, who hobbled off with what looked like an ankle injury. Stoke have threatened from the odd set-piece, but have spent most of the half on the back foot. Join us for the second half soon.
45 mins:Just the one minute added on.
42 mins:Sniff on goal for Tevez as he arrives at the far post to meet Kolarov's teasing cross, but the angle is tight and he can only find the side netting.
39 mins:At last, Man City make the change. Clichy is coming on and it looks like he'll play on the left of a back three with Lescott and Zabaleta.
38 mins:It's like the Chuckle Brothers on the touchline as Mancini and Platt look at their notes, trying to work out what to do about Kompany's replacement. They could be playing noughts and crosses. I bet Mancini would be impossible to beat at that game.
35 mins:Kolarov is booked after bringing down Walters, but Whelan's harmless free-kick is held by Pantilimon. Kompany has gone off and clearly won't be coming back, but Mancini has yet to bring on a replacement.
33 mins:This isn't good news for Man City. Their influential skipper Kompany is struggling after appearing to roll his right ankle when controlling a dropping ball. Bit of a headache for Mancini because Nastasic isn't on the bench.
31 mins:A cross from Kightly is headed out by Kompany to Whelan on the edge of the box and the Stoke midfielder fizzes a speculative volley wide.
28 mins:Stoke have the ball in the back of Man City's net, but Shawcross is correctly flagged offside after bundling in Etherington's free-kick which had been helped on by Huth.
25 mins:Shotton lobs a couple more long throws into the Man City area but the visitors stand firm. Aaron from Manchester says,"Nice to see Mancini keeping Dzeko in the side. As soon as the transfer window closes he'll be back on the bench!"
22 mins:Another sight on goal for Man City. The ball drops kindly to Tevez after Stoke fail to clear a cross, but the Argentine slices his volley horribly wide from 10 yards out.
20 mins:Man City hit the woodwork! Silva is again afforded time and space after collecting a short free-kick near the Stoke corner. The Spaniard curls the ball beyond Sorensen towards the far corner, but his attempt bounces off the inside of the post. Desperately unlucky.
19 mins:Danger for Stoke as the home side are caught short at the back. Dzeko is found in plenty of space on the edge of the area and lines up a shot, but his effort is charged down by Shawcross.
17 mins:Kolarov fires a free-kick over from the right after Zabaleta is caught late by Etherington, but the ball is caught by an unchallenged Sorensen.
15 mins:Stoke threaten from a set-piece as Huth rises to meet a corner, but the German defender doesn't time his header and diverts the ball over.
13 mins:A dodgy pass from Man City's reserve keeper Pantilimon hands Stoke a throw level with the 18-yard box. Shotton chucks the ball into the mixer, but the 6ft 8in Pantilimon makes amends by punching the ball away confidently.
11 mins:The visitors have started brightly with their defence untroubled so far. Tevez and Silva combine down the left, but the latter's cross is cleared.
9 mins:Man City are awarded a free-kick about 25 yards from the Stoke goal in a central position. Set-piece specialist Kolarov's eyes light up, but he fails to hit the target as he curls the ball well over.
7 mins:Sorensen makes the first save as he dives down at his near post to pat behind Tevez's angled drive after a neat through ball by Silva.
4 mins:Shotton sends a cross over from the right side but overcooks his delivery as the ball sails out out of play. "Come on Stoke you can beat the noisy neighbours," says Phil from Warrington.
1 min:Sloppy start by Stoke as Dzeko's effort deflects wide for a corner. It's taken short to Silva, who glides towards the area unopposed before firing over.
0 mins:Man City get us underway, a couple of minutes late because of Silva's wardrobe malfunction. The pitch looks in great condition.
1241:We're slightly behind schedule as the players wait patiently in the tunnel. Nothing to do with the weather, though. Apparently, Silva has been sent back to the dressing room to change his clothing. No idea what he was wearing.
1225:Stoke make five changes from their defeat last weekend at Swansea. Sorensen replaces Begovic in net, while Shotton, Wilkinson, Kightly and Jones come in for Cameron, Adam, Whitehead and Crouch. Manchester City also change their goalkeeper as Pantilimon gets a rare start in place of the rested Hart. Nastasic and Clichy make way for Lescott and Kolarov, while Tevez and Dzeko continue up front.
1215:Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage from the Brittania Stadium as Stoke entertain Manchester City in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Team news in a tick...