Manchester City vs Stoke match report: Mame Biram Diouf's stunning solo strike shocks champions

Manchester City 0 Stoke City 1

There are not many memories of the Etihad Stadium for Mark Hughes to cherish. Managerially, Manchester City was his taste of big money and big football. He was given a Hollywood budget, and his time since his messy sacking has been spent in the realisation he would probably never again see the views from football’s Beverly Hills. This result was a further indication that he is still one the finest managers in the Premier League.

“I have no axe to grind,“ he said of his time at City between June 2008 and December 2009. “I was here as the manager and it did not last as long as it could have done but there you go. I am at a good club now.”

Hughes will always remember the final whistle as the rain spewed down over Manchester; the walk across to Manuel Pellegrini, the firm handshake and then turning to the Stoke fans chorusing their battle hymn “Delilah” and applauding. Only one manager has beaten Pellegrini at home in the Premier League; Jose Mourinho. 

Very few of those who travelled up the M6 from Staffordshire would have expected anything other than a defeat. Stoke had played six Premier League matches at the Etihad Stadium and lost the lot without scoring so much as a goal.

The one that settled this match was worth the wait. With the champions pressing unconvincingly for the goal that virtually everybody in the stadium knew would settle another City home win, Stoke cleared their lines from David Silva’s corner and Mame Diouf began running. It took him three quarters of the length of the pitch. He drove past Aleksandar Kolarov and a half-hearted challenge from Fernandinho, who was supposed to be Joe Hart’s last line of defence.

For someone who keeps goal for England, Hart does not inspire confidence in situations such as these. Diouf beat him easily, sliding his shot through the keeper’s legs. Moments later, he nearly did the same, almost turning home a low cross from Peter Odemwingie, who injured his knee in the process and had to be taken off on a stretcher.


Like Hughes, Manchester was  Diouf’s shot at the big time. Sir Alex Ferguson brought him to United from Molde five years ago but his football was played on loan at Blackburn. This display, which included a reasonable shout for a penalty when Kolarov appeared to trip him in the first half, was an indication of what caught Ferguson’s eye.

These days, Manchester City possess the kind of aura  that United once enjoyed at Old Trafford. Teams come here, half expecting to be beaten and matches become routine. This had a similar feel. You wondered if Stoke had scored too soon, then surveyed the firepower available to Pellegrini and asked yourself how long it would be before they broke through.

Stoke, with Ryan Shawcross marshalling his back four manfully, held out. The champions pushed forward but their attacks were ponderous and lacked focus. Stevan Jovetic, who had been irresistible against Liverpool on Monday night, was far too deep, driven back by the red-and-white wall in front of him. Too often he got under Silva’s feet.

“We tried to be patient, we tried to break them down, we couldn’t create space, we had a bad day,” reflected Pellegrini, who had lost Fernando to injury in the first half. “We did not play well but this is not a game we should have lost 1-0. It was too easy the way they scored from a counter-attack from their own box. These are the kind of games that happen once a year.”

In terms of goals, the greatest contribution to Manchester City’s second championship in three seasons came from Yaya Touré. He was once more the greatest threat to Asmir Begovic’s goal.

In stoppage time before the interval he had driven the ball on to the crossbar after Sergio Aguero had fed Kolarov with a delightful back-heel. After the interval, he saw a deflected shot fizz wide that half the stadium celebrated as a goal. Touré lay on his back grinning hugely.

The next time he went down in the area there were fewer smiles. Erik Pieters made a wild challenge and Touré fell spectacularly enough for the referee, Lee Mason, to book him for diving. Television replays suggested a penalty. When asked about it, Pellegrini attempted to be diplomatic and then could not help himself, saying he would not talk about referees then condemning Mason’s decision.

This time last year, with transfer deadline-day looming and Radamel Falcao being touted by Monaco on loan for £20m, Manchester City would have reacted by signing the striker just because they could.

In the first day of the Abu Dhabi takeover they had bought Robinho for Hughes and, half-jokingly, said they were prepared to pay £132m for Cristiano Ronaldo.

That was Manchester City before Financial Fair Play. “These are just rumours,” said Pellegrini, reacting to news Falcao had been withdrawn from the Monaco squad to play Lille yesterday. “We have important  restrictions about how much money we can spend and how many foreign players we can use. It is not  easy for us.” Last night Falcao  indicated he was leaning towards Real Madrid.

Manchester City: (4-2-3-1) Hart; Sagna, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Touré, Fernando (Fernandinho, 37) ; Nasri (Navas, 63), Aguero, Silva; Jovetic (Dzeko, 63).

Stoke City: (4-3-2-1) Begovic; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; N’Zonzi, Whelan, Diouf; Walters (Odemwingie h-t; Adam, 64), Moses (Muniesa, 80); Crouch.

Referee: Lee Mason

Man of the match: Shawcross (Stoke)

Match rating: 7/10

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot