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Premier League

  • 25 March 2012
  • • 04:30
  • • Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
  • Referee: H. Webb
  • • Attendance: 27535
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Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City: Yaya Toure screamer salvages point to move visitors top after Crouch wondergoal

Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City: Yaya Toure screamer salvages point to move visitors top after Crouch wondergoal

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Roberto Mancini's side go ahead of rivals United in the league, with the Red Devils playing Fulham on Monday, after a hard-earned draw with a battling Potters team

Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League with a 1-1 draw against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

The Potters took the lead in the second half through Peter Crouch, as the England international volleyed in a stunning strike.

However, City recovered as Yaya Toure smashed home from range, his effort helped in thanks to a slight deflection off Ryan Shawcross.

Stoke made three changes to the team that drew at Tottenham during the week, with Matthew Etherington coming in for Jermaine Pennant, Dean Whitehead starting in place of Salif Diao and Wilson Palacios dropping to the bench for Glenn Whelan.

The visitors came into this match on the back of their 2-1 win over Chelsea and they made just two changes to that side. In midfield Nigel de Jong took a place on the bench, being replaced by Gareth Barry, and Edin Dzeko replaced Sergio Aguero in attack after the Argentine picked up a foot injury at the team’s hotel.

The match made a very slow and tentative start, with neither side creating any real chances in the opening moments, but Cameron Jerome almost made the breakthrough in the 12th minute as he looked to get on the end of Crouch’s header, but his attempted scissor-kick just missed the ball.

City began to assert control on the possession, but both sides continued to cancel each other out, and a head injury to David Silva hardly helped matters as play was halted for several minutes.

As the match closed in on the half-hour mark the Stoke fans were yelling for a penalty as Kolo Toure barged Crouch to the floor to allow Joe Hart a chance to collect the ball at a corner, but Howard Webb wasn’t interested.

City should then have opened the scoring in the 34th minute. Samir Nasri cleverly played Gael Clichy down the line and the left-back whipped in an excellent cross to the far post, but Dzeko couldn’t get his header on target, when he should have at least forced Asmir Begovic into a save.

Soon after it was Pablo Zabaleta who should have scored, receiving a pass from Nasri as he marched into the right side of the penalty area, but the Argentine decided to take a touch rather than shoot first time and Stoke were able to clear.

Thankfully the action had begun to quicken as the first half went on and the visitors were forced to clear off their goal line as half-time approached. Etherington’s left-footed corner managed to go through everyone and towards the far post, but Zabaleta was there to hook the ball out from under the crossbar.

It didn’t take long after the break for City carve open the Stoke defence. Dzeko got himself on the end of a long ball from midfield, and after taking it down he proceeded to take it round Begovic, but the Bosnian goalkeeper was able to get enough on his compatriot’s shot to concede a corner.

Stoke almost had a reason to shout for themselves five minutes later as Whelan’s cross from deep was headed back across the goal by Jerome, but Hart blocked a combined headed effort from Jonathan Walters and Shawcross.

Both sides continued to struggle to truly control the match, but Stoke opened the scoring just before the hour, and what an incredible strike it was.

Begovic smashed the ball up field, for Pennant to nod the ball back to Crouch, and the former Liverpool man chested the ball down onto his knee and then let rip a stunning volley from the right-hand side that dipped into the top far corner, leaving Hart no chance.

Stoke’s goal forced City to attack with more purpose, but after Mario Balotelli was denied by Begovic, and Yaya Toure had a strike easily saved, they looked to Carlos Tevez to work his magic from the bench.

With 15 minutes left, the visitors levelled the score, but it didn’t come through Tevez, rather Yaya Toure. The Ivorian let fly from about 35 yards and despite getting two hands to it, Begovic could keep it out as the ball nestled in the goal.

Replays suggest Shawcross deflected the strike slightly, therefore perhaps taking some of the blame off Begovic, but the Bosnian will be extremely disappointed with his effort.

As full-time got closer, it became evident that the home team were looking to sit back and catch their opponents on the counterattack, and it almost worked perfectly as Walters broke and the ball eventually found its way to Pennant on the right, he crossed only for Wilson Palacios’ header to be knocked behind by Adam Johnson.

Substitute Palacios was acting as an effective driving force in the centre after coming on and he went close again as stoppage time approached, attempting to curl an effort round Hart into the top corner, but it whistled just wide.

Hart almost gifted Stoke the three points in the closing stages as he failed to keep a hold of a free-kick, but Kenwyne Jones was penalised and City held on for the point that takes them top until at least Monday.

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