ROBERT HUTH presented manager Tony Pulis with a perfect birthday present by popping up to bundle home a late equaliser in the Barclays Premier League game against Liverpool.
The German international was on hand to score in the 90th minute after Danny Higginbotham had headed a Matthew Etherington corner across goal as the Potters pressed for an equaliser.
It was a satisfying moment for Higginbotham who felt aggrieved that he had been adjudged to have fouled Phillipp Degen for the free kick which led to Liverpool taking a 57th minute lead.
Greek international Sotirios Kyrgiakos had scored from close range after Thomas Sorensen could only push out a wicked free kick from Fabio Aurelio into the path of the big defender.
But despite the setback of losing Rory Delap and Abdoulaye Faye to injuries, City battled back and their late assault on the Liverpool goal led to them earning a well-deserved point in the end.
The Potters made just the one change after receiving the pre-match boost of Tuncay passing a fitness test on the hamstring injury which forced him off in the Fulham game.
Former Liverpool player Salif Diao replaced Liam Lawrence in midfield, while Rafael Benitez was without several key figures including Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Glenn Johnson, while he had recent signing Maxi Rodriguez on the substitute's bench.
Chances were few and far between in the opening exchanges, although one of Rory Delap's trademark long throw-ins caused problems for the Liverpool defence and Tuncay saw his effort flash wide of the target from close range.
Sorensen had to save under pressure when Insua volleyed a cross in from the left hand side and then Lucas saw a shot deflected into the arms of the 'keeper after a poor throw out by the Danish international left City stretched at the back.
Liverpool had strong appeals for a penalty rejected when Lucas went down under a challenge from Higginbotham and referee Mason showed a yellow card to the Brazilian.
The Potters were forced to make two substitutions in quick succession due to injuries suffered by Delap and Faye with Lawrence and Wilkinson coming on to replace them.
With City having to change their formation with Huth moving into the centre of defence, both sides struggled to make any impression upon the game in the remainder of the half.
But it was Liverpool who broke the deadlock early in the second period when they were awarded a contentious free kick for Higginbotham's contentious challenge on Degen.
Aurelio whipped the free kick from the right hand side and when Sorensen, under pressure at the near post from a crowded area, pushed the ball out Kyrgiakos bundled it home.
Pulis played his last card when he brought Fuller on for Sidibe, and the substitute immediately forced a save out of Reina when he flicked on an Etherington corner from the right.
City pressed hard in the closing stages and won a succession of corners, but despite exerting plenty of pressure on Reina and it eventually brought them their reward with time running out.
Etherington once again delivered the cross from the right hand side and when Higginbotham headed it back across goal, Huth had a relatively simple task to tap the ball home.
There was a scare for City right at the end when Liverpool broke forward and Dirk Kuyt met Aurelio's left wing cross with a header which hit the upright and bounced out.