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Stoke City 1 Manchester City 1 - Match Report

by Richard Buxton. Published Sun 16 Sep 2012 10:11, last updated: 16/09/12

In a game where a well-travelled player found the net, it was almost a perfect debut - only it was Manchester City's new boy Javi Garcia, rather than Stoke's latest darling Michael Owen that earned the headlines in this encounter at the Britannia Stadium.

Embarrassingly for Owen, a free transfer earlier this month, his bow was minimal and saw him fail to even touch the ball during three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game.

Garcia's second half booking was a mere blip on a positive first outing, where he levelled the score, as Roberto Mancini's side recorded a second score draw on their travels.

His decision to withdraw Carlos Tevez, in place of the returning Gareth Barry, was puzzling, especially after the Argentine had proved the heartbeat of the reigning Premier League champions for the best part of an hour while Samir Nasri appeared increasingly absent.

But there were positives as Garcia, Scott Sinclair and Maicon's first runouts in sky blue shirts were incredibly encouraging - with Maicon in particular showing signs of building on the form which saw him revered under Mancini's leadership during his time at Inter Milan.

Micah Richards may find his path to the starting line-up blocked by the Brazilian after he delivered a performance which, much like Richards, created

Peter Crouch's opener was scrappy and derived from the combination of a Jonathan Walters cross and more than a hint of foul play as the lofty striker appeared to touch the ball at least twice with his hand as he wriggled through City's defence to slot past Joe Hart.

An aggrieved Mancini described it as 'basketball' and the replays vindicated his view but City's resurgence was forthcoming as Maro Balotelli flashed an effort over the crossbar from close range after being fed on the turn by Tevez, linking up well with his team mates again.

His free kick just 10 minutes before the interval served a pinpoint delivery to Garcia, who powered home as Stoke's set piece procedure oddly failed to go according to plan.

Edin Dzeko should have wrapped things up with the last kick of the game but saw his lifted effort over the advancing Begovic denied by goal line heroics from Ryan Shawcross.

"We should be talking about the NBA," said Mancini.

"I didn’t see what happened from the bench but I’ve seen it on the TV monitor since and it was incredible. He clearly used his hand and the referee is standing right next to Crouch.

"We had two really good chances at the end but it’s difficult for all teams coming here, not just us.”

Winning a title first time round is considered the most arduous task in any pursuit of the crown but City may just find that their defence could prove equally difficult this season.

STOKE (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson; Kightly (Etherington 69), Nzonzi, Adam (Cameron 85), Whelan; Walters, Crouch (Owen 90)

Subs not used: Sorensen Whitehead, Upson, Jerome

Goals: Crouch (15)

MAN CITY (4-3-3): Hart; Maicon, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Garcia,Y Toure, Nasri; Tevez (Barry 64), Sinclair (Silva 74), Balotelli (Dzeko 90)

Subs not used: Wright, Kolarov, Rodwell, K Toure

Goals: Garcia (35)

Booked: Garcia

Attendance: 27,101

Referee: M Clattenburg (County Durham)


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