Manchester City lost their 100 percent record in the Premier League in falling to Stoke City in a 1-0 home defeat.
Stoke produced a committed defensive display, and their resolve was rewarded at the other end when Mame Diouf scored a fantastic solo goal in the 58th minute to steal the points.
We can't show Mame Biram Diouf's brilliant goal for Stoke, so here's our own visualisation. Solo goal. http://t.co/Hc9KEeptXg— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 30, 2014
Manchester City made excellent additions in the summer to a side that won the Premier League last term, but they were unable to break down Stoke. Alarm bells rang at a similar stage last term when they won two of their first three games, so with an identical record, the club’s supporters would be wise to keep the faith.
The international break will allow time to regroup, so expect them to come out strong when they face Arsenal on September 13.
For Stoke boss Mark Hughes, it was a huge win given the way he was dumped as the manager of Manchester City in 2009.
Samir Nasri had Manchester City’s first chance of the match when shooting crisply from the edge of the box, but Asmir Begovic was the equal of the effort.
Manchester City’s foundation is defensive steel, so it came as a surprise when a sloppy pass out of defence from Fernando presented the ball to Victor Moses. A combination of Vincent Kompany and Bacary Sagna came to the Brazilian’s aid.
Stoke were quite prepared to attack, and they had a strong penalty appeal denied on 19 minutes. Diouf did superbly to keep possession and trick his way past Aleksandar Kolarov. The Serbian appeared to sweep Diouf’s feet from under him, but referee Lee Mason waved play on.
Hughes was apoplectic on the touchline. Replays suggested he was right to be so enraged.
After Yaya Toure had shot wildly wide in the 25th minute, Stoke went forward once again. Peter Crouch showed strength and skill to shrug off Martin Demichelis and control the ball, but his shot lacked venom and was easily saved by Joe Hart.
The Citizens' best chance of the opening 45 minutes came in injury time. Slick passing and movement fashioned a chance for Yaya Toure, but he was leaning back slightly when making contact seven yards out and his effort clipped the crossbar.
Stoke required a last-ditch challenge from Phil Bardsley to deny Nasri at the start of the second half, while Begovic was called into action to deny Toure in the 57th minute.
They were tackles and saves that proved vital, as Stoke took a shock lead on 59 minutes. And what a goal it was.
Diouf picked up the ball deep in his own half and skipped away from retreating Manchester City defenders. A nutmeg took him past Fernandinho and into the box. His shot lacked power, but it squirted under Hart.
Pathetic goalkeeping by Joe Hart but maybe he just appreciated the brilliant run by Diouf— Rik Sharma (@riksharma_) August 30, 2014
Citizens boss Manuel Pellegrini turned to Edin Dzeko and Jesus Navas as replacements for Stevan Jovetic and Nasri in the 63rd minute. They combined on two occasions, but Stoke were able to get bodies in the way and clear the danger.
Further chances came Stoke’s way, with Diouf inches away from turning a low cross into the net and Crouch climbing high, only to send his header wide of target.
Pellegrini's side laid siege to the Stoke goal in the final 15 minutes, but they were unable to find a way past Begovic.
Joe Hart: C-
The England keeper is under pressure with Malaga transfer Willy Caballero breathing down his neck. Hart arguably should have kept out Diouf’s goal, and he also looked vulnerable under the high ball.
Yaya Toure: C-
The Ivorian was inspirational last season, but he’s failed to hit the same heights so far this term and was short of his dynamic best against Stoke. He was booked for a dive as well.
Sergio Aguero: C+
The Argentinian is feeling his way back to full fitness and looked short of full sharpness. However, he kept working away for the entire 90 minutes, and the game time will have done him good.
Will City be active on deadline day? There are reports, such as Tom Sheen's of the Independent, of a move for Monaco's Radamel Falcao, but Pellegrini would not be drawn on the subject.
Manuel Pellegrini says the Falcao links are "just rumours". #MCFC— David Lynch (@DavidLynchMEN) August 30, 2014