English Premiership

City drop points at Stoke

2012-09-15 18:45
Javi Garcia (Getty Images)

Stoke on Trent - Manchester City midfielder Javi Garcia rescued the English Premier League champions as his debut goal earned a 1-1 draw at Stoke on Saturday.

Roberto Mancini's team trailed to a first half goal from Peter Crouch, but Spanish midfielder Garcia, who joined City from Benfica on transfer deadline day, equalised before the interval.

City remain unbeaten but have now drawn successive away games and Mancini will be concerned with the way his side defended at times at the Britannia Stadium.

The underwhelming display from Mancini's men was hardly the ideal way to prepare for Tuesday's Champions League opener at Real Madrid and there was more bad news as Argentine striker Sergio Aguero, on his way back from injury, wasn't fit enough to make the squad.

At least Mancini could take some comfort at the performances of his three new signings.

Brazilian veteran Maicon slotted in well at right-back and always looked to get forward, Garcia provided a solid shield in front of the back four and former Swansea winger Scott Sinclair carried a threat down the left.

City's debutants made a steady start and they went close to taking the lead when a surging run from Carlos Tevez ended with the Argentina striker having an effort deflected just past the post.

But the visitors never looked comfortable in dealing with set-plays and Stoke opened the scoring from a corner after 14 minutes.

Charlie Adam, making his first start since joining from Liverpool, whipped the ball in and, after Jonathan Walters headed back across goal, Crouch was allowed to control.

The striker turned Joleon Lescott and after the ball ricocheted around, the England striker found the corner of the net for his third goal in three games, with City appealing for handball.

Scotland midfielder Adam also lifted a shot over from just outside the area as Tony Pulis' side looked to build on their advantage.

Italy striker Mario Balotelli underwent eye surgery during the international break but showed real sharpness when he controlled Tevez's pass and drove just over the bar.

Yaya Toure also thumped a free-kick just past the top corner as City began to control the match.

Ten minutes before the break they got their reward after Andy Wilkinson fouled Balotelli in midfield.

Tevez hit the free-kick over at pace and Garcia rose highest to glance a header past Asmir Begovic.

And Maicon almost added a second after a swift break cut through Stoke and Tevez lifted a pass to the Brazilian, whose volley was pushed wide by Begovic.

After the break, Adam opened City up with a fine cross-field pass but Michael Kightly's effort was easily blocked wide.

Garcia's eventful debut continued when he caught Kightly with a vicious tackle and was cautioned.

As Stoke pressed forward, Crouch was denied a second when his header was held by Joe Hart from Walters' cross.

City immediately broke down the other end and after Toure was played into the area, Begovic did well to block the midfielder's effort.

Balotelli dragged another effort wide after accusing Andy Wilkinson of hitting him with an elbow.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis threw on former England striker Michael Owen for the final minute but City almost stole the points when Garcia's header was pushed on to the post by Begovic.

And substitute Edin Dzeko saw his late lob cleared off the line by Ryan Shawcross in a dramatic finish.

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