Manchester City grabbed a much needed 1-0 win over Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, as the Citizens ground out a crucial three points against stubborn opposition, after a draining week saw City struggled to hit top gear.
City were frustrated for much of their match by the Potters, as the away side put in a resolute defensive display.
But title-chasing City finally broke through in the 70th minute, as marauding midfielder Yaya Toure finished superbly to seal the victory for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
With the labored win City stay three points behind leader Chelsea on 57 points but crucially have a game in-hand. As for Stoke, they remain entrenched in a relegation battle and sit just three points above the relegation zone.
From the get-go City went at Stoke, as Samir Nasri and Alvaro Negredo surged at the Potters defense with the Citizens eager to put their midweek defeat to Barcelona behind them.
Right back Pablo Zabaleta surged into the box early on and as the Argentine right back let fly, Stoke defender Marc Wilson crucially blocked to keep the scores level. After that Stoke pushed forward and Charlie Adam’s effort went close for the Potters who grew in confidence after weathering the early storm.
Stoke continued to pile forward and in the 20th minute Adam again went close as Joe Hart tipped his low drive wide. It was a fantastic stop from the England international, as Adam looked to the sky in disbelief as Stoke pressed forward.
City tried to storm ahead but after giving away several cheap fouls, Manuel Pellegrini cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines. The teams went in level at the break, as City failed to break down Stoke with the scores locked at 0-0.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half the ineffective Alvaro Negredo was replaced by Jovetic. City kept Stoke camped into their own half for most of the second half, but Edin Dzeko lashed over the bar from inside the box as the home side prodded and probed the Potters but were struggling to break the away side down.
City seemed deflated and were failing to click, especially going forward. But with just 20 minutes to go, up popped the inspirational Toure to slot home from the edge of the six-yard box to send the Etihad Stadium wild. The opener capped off patient build up play from City as the ball was worked wide and Aleksandar Kolarov’s pinpoint cross found the onrushing Toure to finish superbly despite the ball being slightly behind him.
After that City had the perfect chance to seal the win, but Bosnian striker Dzeko somehow missed from inside the six-yard box with the goal at his mercy. The strikers reaction? He smashed the post with his foot in frustration as the Citizens failed to add to their tally.
For the rest of the match City stroked the ball around and threatened to add to Toure’s goal, but they couldn’t and Stoke barely threatened to land a late equalizer.
Hardly a classic but City are back to winning ways after failing to score, or win, in their last two PL matches.
Manchester City: Har, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernandinho (Garcia, 63), Yaya Toure, Nasri, Silva, Dzeko, Negredo (Jovetic, 56)
Goal: Toure (70)
Stoke City: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Adam, Whelan (Etherington, 82), Walters (Ireland, 78), Odemwingie, Arnautovic (Palacios, 69), Crouch