Yaya Toure (75mins)
Stoke City 0
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 14 May 2011 16:58
- Posted by Chris Bailey
Forty-two years of hurt were finally swept away in ninety glorious minutes of North London sunshine.
The FA Cup 2011 will reside alongside Champions League qualification on the Blues roll of honour.
Finally a squad of players has stepped forward to write their names into the history books and put new heroes on the lips of the modern generation.
This must have been the noisiest Cup Final in living memory as both sets of fans traded verbal volleys driving their players on to greater heights and fiercer collisions in the sweltering bowl of Wembley Stadium.
At times this was an epic final full of beauty and precision and at other moments this 130th renewal of the famous old trophy was not the prettiest thing to view but the passion and pride flowing from the fans was ceaseless. To coin a well-worn phrase it was ‘emotional’.
And never more so than after 74 minutes of City dominance Yaya Toure wrote a second chapter in his love affair with Wembley by firing home the winner into the same net as he did in the semi-final against United.
No one, not even the most blinkered observer could say Manchester didn’t deserve to come out on top in this tale of two Cities.
As expected Roberto Mancini recalled captain Carlos Tevez but less predictably started with Mario Balotelli and Aleks Kolarov who ousted Pablo Zabaleta from the left back slot.
Etherington and Huth, Stoke’s major pre-match doubts, both pitched up – no shock at all there.
The Blues made a fabulous start, the first fifteen minutes was played almost exclusively in Stoke territory. Thomas Sorensen made a wonderful save from a Tevez drive and Yaya Toure shaved the post with a howitzer from outside the box.
The movement from Roberto Mancini’s men was terrific particularly from Balotelli who showed commendable discipline both in attack and defence as Stoke were forced into containment mode relying on winning throw-ins on the half way line to ease the pressure.
Sorensen’s day went from brilliant to sensational when he climbed and flew to claw away a curling Balotelli effort that was destined for the top corner. Just how the Dane is not the Potters number one is hard to believe on this evidence.
The Blues had chance after chance none better than when Silva managed to miss from eight yards driving his shot into the ground and over the bar when it looked easier to score.
Stoke meanwhile continued their tactics of pumping high balls for Kenwyne Jones.
Little changed after the break though Stoke had more of the ball and the Blues were less mobile and seemed to run out of ideas and some confidence, their hearts fractured by Sorensen’s heroics and lungs and legs sapped by the lush turf.
It was Jones who had the first real clear cut opening of the second half but his headlong charge was halted by the bravery of Joe Hart.
Then came the moment all City fans had pleaded for, and in some cases prayed for, as first Silva and then Balotelli had shots blocked only for Yaya Toure to hammer home the loose ball.
History is made of such moments.