Monday 2 February 2009

Lacklustre Manchester City sunk by 10-men Potters
A goal from James Beattie was enough to give Stoke City a 1-0 victory over Manchester City, despite having Rory Delap sent off in the first half.

Delap was shown the red card following a tackle with Shaun Wright-Phillips, but Beattie headed the home side ahead from a Matthew Etherington cross just before the break.

Mark Hughes' blues dominated possession but couldn't break down the Stoke defence, having only one shot registered on target.

The visitors went into the game on the back of a two game winning streak, with Tony Pulis' side suffering a dire run of form.

The Eastlands outfit started brightly with efforts from Robinho and Stephen Ireland looking encouraging.

As always, Stoke's main threat came from Delap's renowned long throws into the penalty area, with Glenn Whelan and Ryan Shawcross being troublesome in the box but failing to really test Joe Hart.

The home side went down to 10 men on 36 minutes, after a crunch tackle with Wright-Phillips produced a rash reaction from Delap, with the player taking an unnecessary swipe at the ball. The referee instantly flashed the red card to Delap, who had been Stoke's main form of attack.
Immediately Manchester City bossed possession to a chorus of boos from the Britannia stadium, with many fans feeling that Wright-Phillips was just as to blame in the incident as Delap.

But just as the game looked to be swinging into Manchester City's favour, Etherington's deep ball into the box met Beattie, who outjumped Wayne Bridge to head the ball past Hart and into the net. The crucial goal came on the brink of half time and against the run of play.

The second half saw Hughes' men continue to control and maintain possession, but really struggle to have any form of impact in the final third of play, with Stoke's 10 men remaining resolute. Robinho's early effort was harmless and Ireland failed to connect a flying header to substitute Elano's cross-come-shot.

It was a testiment to Stoke's defending that their one goal lead remained intact despite the intense period of pressure from Manchester City, but the blues were hugely disappointing despite their mega-money line up. The impressive Pablo Zabaleta was sacrificed for the flair of Elano as the blues searched desperately for a winner.

But in all fairness the equaliser never looked likely and Pulis' side were worthy winners of a match that was both frustrating and ill-tempered. The cauldron of atmosphere seemed to make up for Delap's sending off and the win meant that Stoke moved out of the relegation zone, whereas City slipped to 10th in the Premier League.

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