Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City saved by late Barry blow

Stoke City 1 Manchester City 1

Gareth Barry struck a late equaliser as Manchester City claimed a controversial draw at 10-man Stoke to move fourth in the Premier League.

Barry cancelled out a fine Glenn Whelan strike five minutes from time at the Britannia Stadium, but Stoke thought they had won it in injury time when Ryan Shawcross headed in a Rory Delap throw-in.

Roberto Mancini's men, who should have taken control after Abdoulaye Faye was sent off on 52 minutes, were reprieved as referee Alan Wiley spotted a foul on Shay Given.

It was a fortunate decision for City, who had struggled to deal with Stoke's direct and physical approach throughout the second of three meetings between the sides in quick succession.

The same two teams, having drawn in the FA Cup fifth round last weekend, face each other again in the replay next week.

Before then City face Liverpool, one of their chief rivals for that fourth place and perhaps with that game in mind Mancini rang the changes. The Italian, already without Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez, further demonstrated the depth of his squad by leaving Wayne Bridge, Pablo Zabaleta, Stephen Ireland, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Martin Petrov on the bench.

Micah Richards, Javier Garrido, Patrick Vieira, Roque Santa Cruz and Adam Johnson were the men to come in.

Stoke were robbed of the influential Matthew Etherington and the return of Faye after a back injury proved less than successful.

The Potters made life uncomfortable for their visitors from the onset. Having equalised on Saturday from a trademark Delap throw-in, they utilised that same tactic four times inside the opening 10 minutes.

Twice Delap found Shawcross, but the defender headed over and then had an effort cleared by Richards.

The third Delap throw was dealt with by Joleon Lescott and the returning Dean Whitehead shot over from the fourth.

City were also careless in conceding set-pieces around the box early on and one Liam Lawrence free-kick found its way through several pairs of legs only for Mamady Sidibe to shoot tamely at Given. Another Delap delivery was cleared only as far as Whelan, but the midfielder shot well over.

The visitors created only one half-chance for Santa Cruz early on, but Danny Higginbotham blocked the former Blackburn man's shot.

Stoke had a great chance on 20 minutes when Faye met a Lawrence corner with a powerful header, but Lescott headed away.

After 25 minutes of soaking up pressure, City finally created a clear-cut opportunity when a Richards cross was flicked on by Santa Cruz, but Barry sliced horribly wide.

Stoke's next chance predictably came from a Delap throw with this time Robert Huth heading across goal.

City won a free-kick of their own when Emmanuel Adebayor was fouled outside the area, but Santa Cruz volleyed wide from Johnson's delicate cross.

City went down the direct route themselves after the break and Adebayor caught the Stoke defence napping on 52 minutes as he raced onto a long ball from Given.

The Togo striker clearly had the beating of Faye and would have been clear on goal had the defender not dragged him down by the shirt 35 yards out.

Wiley consulted with his assistant before deciding on Faye's punishment, but it came as no surprise when he brandished a straight red card.

City began to dominate possession, but it was some time before their next opportunity, which fell to Adebayor after an attempted clearance by substitute Danny Collins, but he shot over.

The Potters snatched the lead after 72 minutes following a break by Delap down the left. His cross was missed in front of goal by Fuller, but Johnson sliced his attempted clearance into the path of the onrushing Whelan. Given may feel he could have done better as Whelan's powerful 20-yard strike bounced just in front of him on its way into the bottom corner.

City hauled themselves level five minutes from time after a punt into the box was headed on by Adebayor. Barry raced behind him to hook a shot onto the post and then reacted quickly to tuck home the rebound.

That was not the end of the action and Stoke thought they had won it when Given missed a Delap throw but Shawcross' header was disallowed for a foul on the keeper.

Belfast Telegraph


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