Stoke City held on to a vital point against champions Manchester City on Saturday in a thrilling 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium, to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
The Potters took a 1-0 lead on the 14th minute after a very controversial goal by Peter Crouch. Charlie Adam swung in a corner, which was headed into the danger area to Crouch. Crouch took the ball down on his chest, turned and seemingly walked through 2 Manchester City defenders to slot home only 5 yards away from Joe Hart`s goal. There was a suspicion of handball when Crouch beat the defenders, and further replays proved that suspicion was 100% correct. The talismanic striker moved the ball through the defenders with his hand, and when the ball bounced up, he then controlled it with his arm. Unfortunately for City, they stopped playing and appealed for a handball, and didn`t play to the whistle.
Manchester City always looked like a threat throughout the game, with Mario Balotelli leading the threat. Every time that he was on the offense, Stoke always looked scared, and after 15 minutes of solid Manchester City pressure, they finally got their breakthrough. Carlos Tevez floated a free kick into the Stoke box, and out of nowhere popped up new signing Javi Garcia, who lost his marker and headed home a free header to score on his debut.
Stoke looked worried after the second goal, every since they took the lead, you always felt that City were going to go ahead and take the lead, and mercifully, half time came at 1-1.
Stoke came out of the blocks very well in the second half, forcing the Citizens to make countless errors defensively. In a funny moment at the start of the second half, Peter Crouch tried to recreate last season`s ‘wonder-goal`, in practically the same place as last season, only this time, the Manchester defenders knew what was coming and just managed to put him off. Javi Garcia picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon with a dangerous tackle on Kightly.
On the 61st minute, goalkeeper Asmir Begovic made the first of many astounding saves, this coming from a near perfect opportunity from Yaya Toure. Toure was nearly one-on-one with Begovic, with the Bosnian diving towards the ball and putting Toure off, the ball going out for a corner. Balotelli continued to be a threat in this game, however for all of the wrong reasons this time. After a City throw in, defender Andy Wilkinson appeared to elbow Balotelli, prompting the Italian to go down holding his face. Surely one for the FA to look into.
At the very end of the game, Owen made his debut appearance for the club, coming on with Edin Dzeko for Manchester City. Owen didn`t make that much of an impact, however, Dzeko very nearly won it for City, catching Begovic off guard and lobbing the ball over him. Fortunately, Shawcross saw the danger and ran 40 yards to clear the ball off an empty Stoke City line, rescuing a point, and keeping Stoke`s unbeaten start to the season in tact.