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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet