Stoke 0-1 Man City
Pablo Zabaleta scored a late winner to seal Manchester City's route to the FA Cup fifth round with victory at Stoke.
The visitors could not capitalise on long spells of pressure as David Silva hit the post with Carlos Tevez also drawing saves from Thomas Sorenson.
Stoke's chances were limited and Robert Huth went closest with a header.
But just as the game looked like ending goalless, Zabaleta arrived at the back post to steer in Sergio Aguero's cross with five minutes remaining.
Substitute Cameron Jerome could have forced a replay but fired over from 12 yards in stoppage time, while Peter Crouch also headed over late on.
It was a largely forgettable game, with Stoke failing to fire, but the win was Manchester City's first at the Potters since 1999 when both teams were in Football League Division Two.
And it continues a surge in form from Roberto Mancini's side, with this result their sixth consecutive win since losing to Sunderland on Boxing Day.
Conversely for Stoke, they have won just once in the same period and in a repeat of the 2011 FA Cup final, where Manchester City also triumphed 1-0, Glenn Whelan was fortunate not to be dismissed after a two-footed tackle on Javi Garcia.
Although there were exciting moments in the game, neither Sorensen nor Costel Pantilimon were tested too often. That was largely down to a combination of Manchester City lacking sharpness in front of goal and some good Stoke defending.
But, having warned his side about conceding "silly goals" after shipping 14 in their last five games, Tony Pulis's side were slow to react to quick Manchester City set-pieces in the opening period.
David Silva, who had scored twice in his team's last game against Fulham, fired over in the first minute from a short corner and then went even closer after 20 minutes when he hit the post from close to the corner of the penalty area.
Tevez was a bright spark and drew a save from Sorensen before mis-cuing from eight yards and it was clear that Mancini's side were on top before the interval.
Stoke were only threatening from set-pieces, with Huth off-target with a header, but a solidly-built Manchester City side coped with the Potters aerial threat. And the flow of the game was summed up when Mancini took a remarkably relaxed approach to Vincent Kompany's substitution after the half-hour mark.
The Manchester City skipper went off with a calf injury, but it took seven minutes for Mancini and his assistant David Platt to introduce Gael Clichy, switching their defence to a back three.
Stoke improved after the break with Whelan testing Pantilimon, but the Potters midfielder was lucky to be on the field by that stage after jumping two-footed into a tackle with Garcia. Referee Howard Webb was less than 10 yards away but chose only to award a free-kick.
With the game in a relative lull, Mancini shuffled his pack once more with Garcia moving into the defence to accommodate the introduction of Aguero and the Argentine injected some urgency into the Premier League champions' play.
But it was Zabaleta, who has been a model of consistency this season, who made the breakthrough. He started and ended the attack by dispossessing Ryan Shotton near the halfway line and then latched onto Aguero's centre once Dzeko had mis-controlled the cross, to seal a hard-fought win.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis:
"We played more open than we normally do at home. In a cup tie you want to catch them and have a go at them.
"You have got to give City a lot of credit, their attitude and approach was first class. By playing as open as we did, against the best teams, it always gives them a chance to attack and create chances and I thought they did that well.
"Although we are disappointed to have lost the game, and lost it in the last few minutes, you have got to give City a lot of credit. Unfortunately when you come up against the best teams, they need to be a little below par, you need to be right on top of your game and we weren't right on top of our game today."
Manchester City first-team coach David Platt:
"The pleasing thing is we battled hard, defended well and kept another clean sheet. It is pleasing from that perspective and it is also pleasing to go through.
"We knew it was going to be difficult here, you know the ball is going to come in the box and you're going to have to compete for first balls, second balls all day. It is the way it is going to be and I thought we did it well.
"We get players into advanced areas, it is not by luck [goalscorer Pablo] Zabaleta gets into those positions. The way we play we get a lot of players forward, Zaba has been in those positions many times, and he tucked it away nicely."
- 29 Sorensen
- 04 Huth
- 17 Shawcross
- 28 Wilkinson (Whitehead - 73' )
- 30 Shotton Booked
- 06 Whelan
- 15 Nzonzi
- 21 Kightly (Jerome - 67' )
- 26 Etherington
- 09 Jones (Crouch - 73' )
- 19 Walters
- 27 Nash
- 20 Upson
- 16 Adam
- 18 Whitehead
- 10 Owen
- 25 Crouch
- 33 Jerome
- 30 Pantilimon
- 04 Kompany (Clichy - 40' )
- 05 Zabaleta
- 06 Lescott
- 13 Kolarov Booked (Aguero - 62' )
- 07 Milner Booked
- 14 Garcia
- 18 Barry
- 21 Silva
- 10 Dzeko Booked
- 32 Tevez (Rodwell - 87' )
- 01 Hart
- 22 Clichy
- 44 Rekik
- 11 Sinclair
- 17 Rodwell
- 16 Aguero
- 64 Lopes
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The final whistle goes and the game is over.90:00 +0:55
James Milner concedes a free kick for a foul on Ryan Shotton. Free kick taken by Glenn Whelan.90:00 +0:15
Cameron Jerome produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the bar.86:38 Booking
Booking Edin Dzeko is given a yellow card.86:06 Substitution
Substitution Jack Rodwell joins the action as a substitute, replacing Carlos Tevez.84:28
Edin Dzeko provided the assist for the goal.84:28 Goal scored
Goal! - Pablo Zabaleta - Stoke 0 - 1 Man City Pablo Zabaleta gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Stoke 0-1 Man City.82:45
Peter Crouch is caught offside. Costel Pantilimon takes the indirect free kick.82:07
Sergio Aguero takes a shot. Robert Huth gets a block in.80:40
Peter Crouch concedes a free kick for a foul on Joleon Lescott. Costel Pantilimon takes the direct free kick.78:01
Matthew Etherington takes the free kick.78:01 Booking
Booking Caution for James Milner.77:50
Matthew Etherington fouled by James Milner, the ref awards a free kick.76:56
Sergio Aguero takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Huth. David Silva takes a inswinging corner to the near post, save by Thomas Sorensen.75:57
Inswinging corner taken by James Milner.74:03
Edin Dzeko takes a shot. Save by Thomas Sorensen. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by James Milner.72:20 Substitution
Substitution Peter Crouch is brought on as a substitute for Kenwyne Jones.72:20 Substitution
Substitution Andy Wilkinson leaves the field to be replaced by Dean Whitehead.70:35
The ball is delivered by Cameron Jerome, Costel Pantilimon makes a save.69:51
Header on goal by Jonathan Walters from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.
Effort on goal by Carlos Tevez from outside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.67:47
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by James Milner played to the near post, Glenn Whelan makes a clearance.66:01
Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Matthew Etherington, save by Costel Pantilimon.66:01 Substitution
Substitution (Stoke) makes a substitution, with Cameron Jerome coming on for Michael Kightly.65:16
Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Save by Thomas Sorensen.61:45 Substitution
Substitution Aleksandar Kolarov goes off and Sergio Aguero comes on.61:04
Glenn Whelan takes a shot. Costel Pantilimon makes a save.57:03
Shot by Carlos Tevez from outside the box goes over the target.55:57
Header from deep inside the area by Ryan Shawcross goes over the bar.55:04
Unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones by Francisco Javi Garcia results in a free kick. Glenn Whelan takes the direct free kick.54:17 Booking
Booking Ryan Shotton booked for unsporting behaviour.53:16
Glenn Whelan takes a shot. Save by Costel Pantilimon. Ryan Shotton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Carlos Tevez. Free kick taken by Gael Clichy.52:10
Carlos Tevez handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Robert Huth.48:05
Corner taken by Aleksandar Kolarov, Gareth Barry produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.45:01
The referee gets the second half underway.45:00 +1:08 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.39:58
Inswinging corner taken by Matthew Etherington from the right by-line played to the near post, save by Costel Pantilimon.39:06 Substitution
Substitution Vincent Kompany goes off and Gael Clichy comes on.37:05
Ryan Shotton challenges Carlos Tevez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Gareth Barry takes the direct free kick.36:03
Corner taken left-footed by Matthew Etherington to the near post, Edin Dzeko manages to make a clearance.34:59
Carlos Tevez is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.33:56
Strike on goal comes in from Glenn Whelan from the free kick, save by Costel Pantilimon.33:56 Booking
Booking Aleksandar Kolarov receives a yellow card.33:41
Foul by Aleksandar Kolarov on Jonathan Walters, free kick awarded.31:20
Glenn Whelan has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide left of the goal.30:17
Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Shawcross. Glenn Whelan fouled by Gareth Barry, the ref awards a free kick. Ryan Shawcross restarts play with the free kick.27:50
The official flags Ryan Shawcross offside. Free kick taken by Costel Pantilimon.26:36
Glenn Whelan fouled by Gareth Barry, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed by Matthew Etherington.25:25
Robert Huth gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gareth Barry. Gareth Barry takes the direct free kick.21:47
Effort on goal by Carlos Tevez from inside the box misses to the right of the target.19:25
David Silva takes a shot from outside the box and hits the post.19:15
Andy Wilkinson is adjudged to have handled the ball. James Milner restarts play with the free kick.18:48
Edin Dzeko takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Huth.15:06
Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Kightly on Pablo Zabaleta. Aleksandar Kolarov delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Thomas Sorensen makes a save.13:18
Corner taken by Glenn Whelan from the left by-line played to the near post, Robert Huth produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.7:39
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ryan Shotton on Gareth Barry. Aleksandar Kolarov has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.7:22
Short corner taken by James Milner from the right by-line.7:05
Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Save made by Thomas Sorensen.6:00
Kenwyne Jones takes a shot. Save by Costel Pantilimon.4:22
The ball is sent over by Ryan Shotton.0:19
Short corner taken by James Milner from the right by-line, Effort from the edge of the box by David Silva goes wide of the left-hand upright.0:00
The referee gets the game started.
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