STOKE CITY booked a date with Chelsea in the FA Cup Quarter-Finals after an impressive 3-1 victory after extra time over star-studded Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium.
In yet another hard fought fixture between the two sides, substitute Dave Kitson put the Potters in front with ten minutes of normal time remaining, only for Craig Bellamy to level the scores only a minute later. The game was then marred by the sending off of Emmanuel Adebayor for allegedly elbowing Ryan Shawcross.
Justice prevailed for Shawcross when he headed home a Rory Delap missile in the first 15 minutes of extra time, just over a week after he had a similar effort wrongly chalked off against the same team. Turkey skipper Tuncay then ensured victory minutes later, finishing off a sweeping counter attack also involving Glenn Whelan and Ricardo Fuller.
Ahead of the game Tony Pulis made two changes to the side that snatched a late winner at Pompey at the weekend. Match-winner Salif Diao replaced Tuncay in midfield, while Dean Whitehead moved to right back in the absence of the suspended Andy Wilkinson. This meant a recall for Liam Lawrence who came in on the right wing.
Roberto Mancini was again without skipper Kolo Toure after he failed to shrug off an injury in time, but he did however welcome Craig Bellamy back into the fold after missing the last few weeks with a leg injury. The Welshman started off on the flank, supporting lone striker Emanuel Adebayor.
It was the Togo international who in fact had the first real meaningful effort of the game in the eighth minute as he forced Thomas Sorensen into a smart save after firing a powerful effort goalwards from 25-yards.
The visitors continued to look the more likely of the two sides to find an early breakthrough and went close again moments later when England man Gareth Barry prodded the ball straight at Sorensen after being teed up by a determined Stephen Ireland.
Whitehead was forced into a number of clever interventions to thwart Bellamy, who looked eager to impress his Italian boss after their apparent fall out in the week, whilst Diao was giving as good as he got from Vincent Kopmpany in an interesting battle in the heart of midfield.
The clearest chance of the half fell to Bellamy in the 20th minute as Adebayor laid him off after he left Whitehead for dead, however, Sorensen came to the Potters' rescue with a superb save to deny the former Liverpool man from 10-yards.
Stoke's backline were handed a brief moment of respite just before the half hour mark as the tireless Ricardo Fuller won the hosts a corner. Unfortunately though, Nedum Onuoha was on hand to divert Lawrence's in-swinging corner away from the fast approaching Diao.
That incident sparked the hosts in to life, and it wasn't long until it was them who began to assert themselves on the game. A couple of trademark Delap long throw's reaped havoc in the City backline, whilst Glenn Whelan's strike had to be blocked by Onuoha inside the 6-yard box.
The assault continued right up until the interval as firstly, Lawrence and Sidibe got in each others way in the penalty area, before Delap rose highest at the back post to force Republic of Ireland international Given into making a superb save right underneath the crossbar.
Pulis signalled his intent ten minutes into the second half by introducing the more attack minded Tuncay at the expense of Diao, who had put in another excellent shift in the middle. Mancini had plans of his own too and it wasn't long until he went for the jugular by thrusting Shaun Wright-Phillips on with Ireland making way.
The England winger made an instant as he delivered a delightful ball across to Bellamy who fired an effort inches wide of the post via a superb intervention from the outstretched Whitehead. The livewire was once again a thron in the Potters' backline moments later as he put the ball on a plate for Barry, but somehow he headed the ball over the bar from just three yards.
Pulis then made his second substitution of the evening by brining on Danny Pugh with the tired Lawrence the man to make way. His arrival suddenly brought with it an upturn in fortunes for Stoke, as he firstly rifled an effort wide from range, before earning his side a corner with a similar effort which deflected off Kompany.
With the tie looking likely to go to extra time things suddenly burst into life with just over ten minutes remaining. An inspired change from Pulis in which he brought Kitson back into the fray resulted in the former Reading man clinically firing home from 10-yards after linking up sublimely with Tuncay.
The ecstatic home supporters had barely had time to sit back doewn on their seats though by the time Bellamy squared things with a well taken half volley, after Adebayor laid him off a minute later. To round up a dramatic few minutes Adebayor was then sent off for raising an elbow in the face of Shawcross right under Steve Bennett's watchful eye.
Right at the death, the Potters pushed forward in one last attempt to secure the victory in normal time. However, after leaping above Barry, Shawcross planted a header inches wide of the post after Whelan brilliantly picked him out with a delightful corner.
So it was to be extra time, and you know what... the game never looked in doubt from the first few minutes of the additional period.
The Potters looked far more lively and fitter than their weary looking counterparts, so it came as no surprise when justice finally prevailed as Shawcross glanced Delap's long throw into the far corner of the net in the 95th minute to wipe away any unpleasant memories of a similar incident which was ruled out eight days prior.
Four minutes later the tie was sealed as Tuncay dramatically fired Stoke into the Quarter Finals with a superb individual goal after leaving the City defence on their heels.
The following twenty minutes was all about winding down the clock.
Roque Santa Cruz tested the hands of Sorensen, but that's as far as they got.
So Stoke march on and are now just one win away from a first outing at the new Wembley Stadium... oh and don't forget that's now 11 games unbeaten.