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Stoke City’s Phil Bardsley and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero (right), in close action during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester
Brilliant Stoke stun Man City Diouf steals show

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Aug 30, (AFP): Manchester City crashed to a shock 1-0 defeat against Stoke as Senegal striker Mame Biram Diouf stunned the Premier League champions on Saturday. Manuel Pellegrini’s team were beaten on home turf for the first time in the league since February thanks to Diouf’s fine solo run and a poor piece of goalkeeping from City’s Joe Hart in the second half at Eastlands. Diouf is a former Manchester United player who failed to make the grade at Old Trafford, but he returned to Manchester in style, netting Stoke’s first goal at City in seven visits in the Premier League era to give Potters boss Mark Hughes a sweet victory over the club that sacked him in 2009.

The 26-year-old, brought to England by Alex Ferguson in 2009 but limited to a handful of substitute appearances in his time with United, collected a headed clearance from a corner midway inside his own half and set off towards the City goal. Showing eye-catching pace, Diouf proved too quick for Aleksandar Kolarov and easily beat Fernandinho’s mistimed challenge before arriving in the area and hitting the ball, low and right-footed, through the legs of Hart, who will feel he could have done much better with his attempted save. Frustrated by an excellent game-plan implemented by Hughes and the visitors’ committed concentration and defending, the champions created few openings as their 100 percent winning start came to an unexpected end.

After 11 minutes, Samir Nasri gathered a square pass from Bacary Sagna and unleashed a snap-shot which goalkeeper Asmir Begovic turned away from his goal smartly. But it was not until stoppage-time in that first period that Stoke’s goal was threatened again in a flowing move that had been all too rare from the hosts over the first 45 minutes. Sergio Aguero slipped a pass through the area for the overlapping full-back Kolarov who sprinted to the by-line and pulled the ball back for Yaya Toure whose shot, from the corner of the six-yard area, was tipped over acrobatically by Begovic. Those half-chances aside, City failed to find the enterprising football that has become such a feature of their home performances in recent seasons, and helped contribute to six consecutive home wins against Stoke in the Premier League by a combined 15-0 scoreline.
 
It was a strangely lethargic display from City and one which contrasted with Stoke’s determined performance. Nasri’s 51st minute shot was deflected just wide of the Stoke goal and Sagna’s clever prodded pass set up Toure whose effort was parried up, and onto the roof of the net, by Begovic. The corner led to Diouf’s extraordinary goal which, in turn, handed Stoke added belief that they could record their first top-flight win at City in 34 years. Indeed, five minutes after taking the lead, Stoke almost doubled the advantage with substitute Peter Odemwingie crossing from the right and Diouf missing the ball by a fraction as he slid into the six-yard area. Predictably, City’s response was frantic as substitutes Edin Dzeko and Jesus Navas came off the bench.
 
Dzeko threatened on a couple of occasions soon after his arrival and Aguero worked an opening for himself with a shot that deflected onto the arm of Marc Wilson, although referee Lee Mason correctly turned down the resulting penalty appeal. As City pressed, Stoke were presented with the occasional opportunity on the counter-attack and Peter Crouch headed down, and narrowly wide, from Phil Bardsley’s 72nd minute cross, before the action returned to the other end with Toure’s shot wrong footing Begovic but diverting just wide. To compound a miserable afternoon for the champions, Toure was cautioned late on for simulation as he attempted to win a penalty from Erik Pieters.

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