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02:01 15th May 2011

Toure Shatters City's Cup Dream

STOKE CITY'S dream of winning the FA Cup for the first time in their 148-year history was shattered by Yaya Toure as Manchester City ended their 35-year wait for a piece of silverware in the Final at Wembley Stadium.

The powerful midfielder hammered home the only goal of the game in the 74th minute to break City's hearts after a glorious run to the Final.

The outstanding Thomas Sorensen could do nothing to keep out Toure's thunderbolt after pulling off a string of excellent saves to keep Roberto Mancini's side at bay, especially in a first half which was dominated by the Champions League qualifiers.

Sorensen had to be at his brilliant best to keep out efforts from Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli as the Potters were forced to defend courageously.

Their best chance to break the deadlock came midway through the second half when Kenwyne Jones was thwarted by Joe Hart when clean through on goal after being released by a long through ball from winger Matthew Etherington.

When their fate was eventually sealed by referee Martin Atkinson after three minutes of injury time, the 30,000 Stoke fans raised the roof to salute their heroes for a magnificent achievement in reaching the Final, but it wasn't to be on the day.

Manchester City's triumph made it a double celebration after their big rivals United had clinched the Premier League title just before the kick-off.

It was a massive boost to the Potters that both Huth and Etherington, such highly influential figures, came through their fitness tests and were named in the starting line-up, all of which meant that Whitehead dropped down to the bench.

Mancini's men made the more confident start and created a number of chances in which City were indebted to the good of Sorensen a number of times.

The Big Dane was called upon to dive low to his left to push away a shot from Tevez curled from just outside the box to the left of the 'keeper.

Sorensen was also relieved to see a thunderbolt from Toure flash wide of the target and Shawcross went close to putting through his own net under pressure.

There was a break in the action when Balotelli went down in the box clutching his face after it appeared that Huth's arm had caught him.

City were indebted to their alert 'keeper Sorensen for some more smart work when he raced off his line to palm away from the incoming Tevez after he had been picked out by a raking 40 yard pass from Toure from the halfway line.

The first threat from the Potters came midway through the half when Jones and Walters linked up well for the record to get a first sniff of goal, but although he made room for himself on the edge of the box he scuffed his shot and Hart gathered.

Yet again, Sorensen was City's hero in the 23rd minute with a brilliant one handed save at full stretch when Balotelli thought he had beaten him with a curling shot from the left hand edge of the box after being set up by Toure's burst forward.

There were strong appeals for handball when Kompany blocked a flick on by Jones as he tried to latch onto a pass from Walters in a rare attack.

But the Potters were quickly on the back foot again as City broke forward and although Whelan appeared to be fouled in the move, the referee waved play on as Balotelli set up Toure whose firm shot was saved by the excellent Sorensen.

Some outstanding approach play from Tevez carved out another opening for City and when Sorensen read the situation to push the ball away from Balotelli as he was bearing down on goal, Silva lifted his shot over an open goal.

Another menacing burst from Tevez caused more problems for the Potters defence, but fortunately on that occasion Silva was crowded out by the presence of Huth and Wilkinson as they forced into some more last-ditch defending.

As the half drew to a close, Huth was booked for an ungainly lunge at Balotelli, but the resulting free kick was blazed over the bar by Kolarov.

Pulis was probably relieved to get to half-time with the game still goalless, although his main concern at the end of the half was an inury to Pennant who appeared to go over on his ankle and he left the field rather gingerly at the break.

Fortunately though, Pennant came out again after half time, but the Potters were quickly on the backfoot again as Kolarov overlapped down the left but lashed his shot into the sidenetting with Sorensen covering his near post.

There was an encouraging sign for City when Etherington burst to the edge of the box and laid off a pass for Shawcross, but his attempt to get past his man on a run down the left was blocked off by a firm challenge by Richards.

Pennant was then on the receiving end of some rough treatment from the City players which led to two free kick and that appeared to lift the fans and indeed the players as they exerted some pressure on Hart and his defenders.

Wilson produced some calm work under pressure to alleviate the danger posed by another City break, but there was trouble for the Potters moments later.

Tevez broke forward and took two defenders with him, leaving Silva unmarked on the left hand side, but although the Argentinian found him with his pass, City defenders managed to recover and crowd the winger out when he appeared to be in on goal.

City had an excellent chance on the hour to go in front when Etherington played a long ball into the path of Jones whose forceful run took him past Kompany into a one-on-one situation with Hart but the England 'keeper came off his line to smother the shot.

That was the last action for Etherington, who made way for Whitehead in a reshuffle that saw Delap moved out onto the left hand side.

As the game moved into the final 20 minutes, there were growing signs that City were having more of the possession and some determined work by Walters set up the opportunity for Delap to send over a cross, but he overhit it straight into arms of Hart.

Mancini made his first change moments later by bringing on Johnson for Barry to give his side even more attacking options in an attempt to break the deadlock.

And the change paid off two minutes later when Silva's burst into the box was picked out by Tevez and when City struggled to get the ball away, it broke for Toure to thump a blistering drive into the net to give Sorensen no chance whatsoever.

City had little more than 15 minutes remaining to get themselves back on level terms but whena long ball was played up to Jones, although he won the initial challenge, he could not get past his marker on that occasion.

Pulis' last throw of the dice came a couple of minutes later when he brought on Carew for Delap followed shortly afterwards by Pugh coming on for Whelan.

There was a glimmer of hope with four minutes remaining when Carew muscled his way past Kompany, but his attempt to lay the ball off to Walters was closed down.

The Potters forced a couple of corners in injury which Sorensen went forward to add more aerial presence in the box, but it was all to no avail.

    Data provided by Press Association


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