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09:10 10th May 2010

Manchester United 4 Stoke City 0

CITY secured an impressive eleventh place finish in the Barclays Premier League despite falling to a 4-0 defeat against Premier League runners up Manchester United on Sunday.

Strikes from Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs a Danny Higginbotham own and Park Ji-Sung were enough to inflict just a second defeat on the road in 2010 on the Potters, however, the win wasn't enough to claim the hosts a fourth successive league title.

Chelsea's 8-0 hammering of Wigan at Stamford Bridge meant they were crowned Champions ahead of the Red Devils, whilst City slipped just one place after Blackburn overtook us thanks to their win against Aston Villa.

Despite dropping to eleventh the season will still be remembered as one of progression after overhauling last campaign's final points tally and finishing one place higher in the league.

As expected Tony Pulis named the same starting eleven which picked up all three points at Fulham earlier this week, with the returning Abdoulaye Faye having to make do with a place on the substitutes bench at the expense of teenage striker Louis Moult.

United, who were desperately hoping for a Chelsea slip up, certainly made their intentions clear from the off as they wasted no time in pressurising the City backline.

Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov was guilty of spurning two opportunities of breaking the deadlock early on as he headed Nani's dangerous ball into the box inches over the bar, before seeing a similar effort glance over off the woodwork minutes later.

The Potters momentarily worried the Red Devils when Rory Delap's long throw-in caused a brief moment of panic whilst Jamaican international Ricardo Fuller fired a tame effort at former Fulham stopper Edwin Van Der Sar after cleverly sidestepping Rio Ferdinand.

Paul Scholes was next to try his luck for the hosts, however, his strike from 30-yards was ballooned high into the upper reaches of the stand behind goal.

When Sir Alex Ferguson's side did find a fortuitous breakthrough on the half hour the goal was met by something of a subdued celebration as news had filtered through that Chelsea had also taken the lead against Wigan in the capital.

The goal itself was handed on a plate to Scotland skipper Fletcher when Andy Wilkinson's clearance hit the unknowing and hugely unfortunate Dean Whitehead, allowing the United midfielder to fire the ball high into the roof of the net from 5-yards.

One soon became two as a clever passage of play culminated in the evergreen Giggs rifling the ball beyond Asmir Begovic and into the back of the net after Berbatov picked him out inside the 18-yard box.

A brave challenge from Andy Wilkinson ensured City wouldn't fall further behind as he superbly denied Barclays Premier League Player of the Season Wayne Rooney with a last ditch challenge, before Fuller brought the best out of United's Dutch keeper Van Der Sar with a thunderous effort right on the stroke of half time.

The visitors came out of the interval looking the brighter of the two sides with Shawcross seeing his header saved by Van Der Sar before Etherington curled an effort wide of goal.

Despite that though, the hosts all but secured the win in the 54th minute when former United apprentice Higginbotham sliced the ball into his own net as he tried to clear the ball away from the fast approaching Fletcher inside the 6-yard box.

Begovic then pulled of a superb save to further spare the Potters blushes as he denied Nani with a brilliant save down to his left, before Pulis responded by looking to shut up shop and avoid a repeat of the Chelsea result by making a trio of substitutions.

Danny Pugh, Danny Collins and Salif Diao were all introduced at the expense of Dean Whitehead, Mamady Sidibe and Higginbotham. Their arrivals though sparked a complete turnaround on the pitch as City pushed forward and almost pulled a goal back on a number of occasions.

Firstly, Delap, who was being deployed as a makeshift striker, flung himself at Etherington's dangerous centre and glanced the ball seemingly towards the far corner, only for Van Der Sar to superbly deny him with a one handed save.

Another former United academy scholar Pugh then went equally as close from 25-yards as his effort looked destined for the top corner, until the Dutchman again denied him with an equally as impressive save, before Nemanja Vidic hacked the ball away from danger.

England striker Rooney was the replaced by Park-Ji-Sung after appearing to have pulled his groin, and the South Korean got himself on the scoresheet late on to wrap up the victory with a clinically taken header after Giggs' corner found its way through a packed out penalty area.


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955