Gareth Barry celebrates after levelling for Manchester City
By Les Roopanarine
A laboured stalemate against 10-man Stoke lifted Manchester City to fourth spot in the Premier League, but Roberto Mancini's men failed to convince.
Abdoulaye Faye was adjudged to be the last man when he upended Emmanuel Adebayor shortly after the break, and was shown a straight red card.
Stoke had dominated up to then, and went ahead despite their disadvantage when Glenn Whelan scored from distance.
But Gareth Barry hooked in from close range at the death to salvage a point.
Barry's strike was sufficient to earn Manchester City the point they needed to dislodge Liverpool's grip on fourth place, but Mancini's men hardly resembled an irresistible force ahead of Sunday's Premier League joust with Liverpool.
Manchester City will have been under no illusions about the nature of their task after facing the same opposition - and battling to the same scoreline - in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Unbridled commitment, relentless pressure and steely determination are the hallmarks of Tony Pulis' side, and Mancini was all too aware of the potential pitfalls.
Stoke not treated fairly by refs - Pulis
In the wake of the Cup clash two days previously, when Ricardo Fuller headed in one of Rory Delap's trademark long throws, the Italian had urged his players to stay focused, not least at the set pieces that are Stoke's bread and butter.
Yet it appeared for long stretches that Mancini's words had fallen on deaf ears, a fact that will doubtless not go unnoticed on Merseyside.
An early Delap throw, headed over by Robert Huth, set the tone for a sustained set-piece assault by the home side in which Manchester City were wholly complicit.
Handing out dead-ball opportunities like confetti to Delap and the excellent Liam Lawrence, Mancini's side's self-destructive tendencies were epitomised when Joleon Lescott needlessly handled on his side's left flank.
Lawrence swung in the resulting free-kick, Delap touched it on and Mamady Sidibe, who looked a picture of surprise, fired off a poked shot from inside the six-yard box that trickled weakly into the grateful arms of Shay Given.
Missing the forward thrust and guile of Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy, the visitors needed to mix it in midfield, where Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson, the youngster who so impressed on his full debut against Bolton recently, were feeding off scraps.
It was, of course, with that purpose in mind that Mancini acquired Patrick Vieira from Inter Milan.
But Vieira showed entirely the wrong kind of aggression when putting his foot in on Whelan in the most sensitive of areas, and he was fortunate not to enter Alan Wiley's book.
Meanwhile, Mancini was going apoplectic on the sidelines, as well he might have done when Javier Garrido, brought in at left-back in place of Wayne Bridge, was forced to clear a Sidibe header from under the bar.
City's problems were summed up on the half hour when, after a rare forward foray, Barry's customary composure deserted him and he sliced a decent chance horribly wide.
Not until the 53rd-minute dismissal of Faye did another ray of hope break through the red-and-white storm enveloping the Blues.
It was a marginal decision, but replays suggested that Faye - who clumsily bundled Adebayor over as the Togo international raced goalwards - was indeed the last man, and after consulting his assistant, Wiley brandished the red card.
It briefly looked the cue for a Manchester City onslaught, with Adebayor suddenly more prominent than he had been all night.
But the visitors continued to lack cohesion and instead it was Stoke who made the breakthrough.
Mancini disappointed with draw at Stoke
Johnson miscued a clearance on the edge of the area after Manchester City had failed to deal effectively with a Delap ball into the danger area, and Whelan fired a shot low to Given's right.
Whelan has connected with the ball more forcefully, and Given will be hugely disappointed with his failure to repel his Republic of Ireland team-mate's relatively tame effort.
But his blushes were spared by Barry, who hooked home from close range after his first effort, created courtesy of a long ball knocked down by Adebayor, struck a post.
If that was a stroke of luck for Mancini's side, they may consider themselves even more fortunate that an injury-time effort by Ryan Shawcross, who headed in from a Delap throw, was chalked off.
Mystery surrounded the decision, a fact angrily articulated by the home contingent.
But if - as seems most likely - Wiley felt there had been a foul on Given, replays are likely to persuade him otherwise.
Stoke City manager Tony Pulis:
"When it was 11 against 11 I thought it was a good game and we created a lot of opportunities, a lot of chances.
"I've got no qualms about the sending off, but there were certain incidents that I am not too pleased with.
"I am not asking for anything more than parity.
"The goal in the second half is a good goal. There is no doubt Ryan gets up. Look at Kolo Toure's reaction - his head is in his hands and he is on his knees.
"It is a good goal and why the referee has disallowed it I just don't know. It is very disappointing for us."
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini:
"In the first half it was difficult for us because the ball was always in the air.
"But we fought very well and in the second half when we played with one player more we managed to play better.
"It is two points lost because we played 11 against 10 for 40 minutes.
"I am disappointed with this result because when you play 11 against 10 you must play better."
58:59 Centre by Adam Johnson, Emmanuel Adebayor concedes a free kick for a foul on Thomas Sorensen. Thomas Sorensen takes the direct
56:09 Ricardo Fuller gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Micah Richards. Shay Given restarts play with the free kick.
55:07 Mamady Sidibe fouled by Micah Richards, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed by Liam Lawrence, clearance by Gareth
54:31 The offside flag is raised against Roque Santa Cruz. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free kick.
52:34 Javier Garrido produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick.
52:34 Sent off Abdoulaye Faye is sent off by the referee.
51:52 Emmanuel Adebayor fouled by Abdoulaye Faye, the ref awards a free kick.
50:38 Adam Johnson challenges Mamady Sidibe unfairly and gives away a free kick. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free kick.
49:57 Booking Glenn Whelan goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
49:51 Glenn Whelan concedes a free kick for a foul on Patrick Vieira. Kolo Toure restarts play with the free kick.
47:06 Direct free kick taken by Danny Collins.
47:06 Booking The referee cautions Nigel De Jong for unsporting behaviour.
47:03 Unfair challenge on Glenn Whelan by Nigel De Jong results in a free kick.
46:05 Unfair challenge on Patrick Vieira by Ryan Shawcross results in a free kick. Javier Garrido crosses the ball in from the free
45:07 Substitution Danny Higginbotham goes off and Danny Collins comes on.
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:00+2:05 The ref blows to signal half-time.
42:22 Liam Lawrence takes the free kick.
42:22 Booking Patrick Vieira is given a yellow card.
42:07 Free kick awarded for a foul by Patrick Vieira on Mamady Sidibe.
40:46 The ball is delivered by Adam Johnson.
Correction - 38:37 The official flags Mamady Sidibe offside. Kolo Toure takes the indirect free kick.
38:37 The official flags Mamady Sidibe offside. Shay Given takes the free kick.
37:32 Unfair challenge on Mamady Sidibe by Patrick Vieira results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Liam Lawrence, Kolo Toure
makes a clearance.
36:15 Emmanuel Adebayor fouled by Ryan Shawcross, the ref awards a free kick. A cross is delivered by Adam Johnson, Shot by Roque
Santa Cruz from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
29:34 Glenn Whelan concedes a free kick for a foul on Patrick Vieira. Direct free kick taken by Javier Garrido.
27:53 Glenn Whelan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Patrick Vieira. Shay Given takes the free kick.
25:31 Micah Richards delivers the ball, Shot by Gareth Barry from deep inside the penalty area misses wide to the left of the target.
24:42 Unfair challenge on Adam Johnson by Rory Delap results in a free kick. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Adam Johnson,
Abdoulaye Faye makes a clearance.
23:35 Robert Huth gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kolo Toure. Free kick taken by Shay Given.
22:40 Liam Lawrence takes the inswinging corner, Kolo Toure makes a clearance.
21:22 Patrick Vieira concedes a free kick for a foul on Danny Higginbotham. Free kick taken by Rory Delap.
20:05 Inswinging corner taken by Liam Lawrence from the left by-line.
19:13 Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Liam Lawrence, Mamady Sidibe takes a shot. Joleon Lescott manages to make
15:06 Glenn Whelan takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.
14:24 Joleon Lescott gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mamady Sidibe. Free kick crossed right-footed by Liam Lawrence
from right wing, clearance made by Micah Richards.
13:00 Rory Delap produces a cross, save by Shay Given.
11:43 Roque Santa Cruz takes a shot. Blocked by Glenn Whelan.
10:47 Foul by Joleon Lescott on Ricardo Fuller, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed right-footed by Liam Lawrence from right channel,
clearance by Roque Santa Cruz.
9:51 Long distance shot from Glenn Whelan misses to the left of the target.
8:12 Rory Delap takes a shot. Save by Shay Given.
7:08 Javier Garrido concedes a free kick for a foul on Mamady Sidibe. Liam Lawrence takes the direct free kick.
6:45 Glenn Whelan concedes a free kick for a foul on Patrick Vieira. Free kick taken by Shay Given.
6:11 Ryan Shawcross takes a shot. Save made by Shay Given.
4:41 Patrick Vieira fouled by Glenn Whelan, the ref awards a free kick. Kolo Toure restarts play with the free kick.
3:26 Handball by Joleon Lescott. Centre by Liam Lawrence, Mamady Sidibe takes a shot. Shay Given makes a save.
2:28 Mamady Sidibe fouled by Nigel De Jong, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Danny Higginbotham.
1:48 Robert Huth produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.
0:00 The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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