Manchester City win FA Cup; United the league
Manchester City ended their 35-year trophy drought with a 1-0 win over Stoke to clinch the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.
Ivory Coast international Yaya Toure was the hero once again for City, rifling in a shot on 74 minutes to settle a largely one-sided encounter.
The win gave City their first piece of silverware since their victory in the 1976 League Cup final at Wembley and completed a rare double on the same day that their rivals Manchester United sealed the Premier League.
It also sealed a fine week for City, who had clinched qualification for next season’s Champions League on Tuesday by beating Tottenham.
“I can only say that I’m very happy for all the supporters,” a delighted City manager Roberto Mancini told ITV afterwards.
“After many years, they deserved to win this trophy,” Mancini added, gesturing towards City’s delirious army of fans.
“We need to improve but we are very happy. We did a small piece of history of Manchester City. We start now.”
Goal hero Toure – who had also scored the winner in last month’s semi-final victory over Manchester United – was jubilant to have helped City end their long wait for a piece of silverware.
“The dream is now … it’s fantastic to win. It’s fantastic for the history of the club,” said Toure.
“We wanted to win something and get through to the Champions League. It’s amazing.”
City, who dominated throughout, might have won by more had it not been for a couple of fine saves by Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen early on when Mancini’s men were threatening to run riot.
City, who had been lifted by captain Carlos Tevez passing a late fitness test, settled swiftly and took control of the opening exchanges.
Tevez might have put City ahead after only five minutes, his curling shot headed for goal after taking a slight deflection off Ryan Shawcross, only for Sorensen to save superbly at full stretch.
There was little respite for Stoke thereafter, and Shawcross was deeply relieved when he stuck a leg out to intercept a low Aleksandar Kolarov cross in the 10th minute which came dangerously close to being an own goal.
Moments later it was Toure’s turn, the Ivorian letting fly from 30 yards with a ferocious drive that beat Sorensen only to go inches wide.
With City rampant, Stoke’s defence showed signs of cracking under the pressure, German centre-half Robert Huth lucky to escape punishment for a blatant off the ball elbow that flattened Mario Balotelli.
Stoke’s only chance on goal in a lop-sided opening period came when Trinidad striker Kenwyne Jones found some space in the City box, only for his shot to be blocked by Vincent Kompany.
At the other end Stoke again had Sorensen to thank after another brilliant save on 24 minutes, this time from Balotelli, whose curling shot was hurtling towards the top corner before it was palmed away to safety.
City should have gone 1-0 up on 35 minutes, when a wonderful ball from Tevez found Balotelli in the box and in the ensuing melee David Silva’s shot into the turf bounced up and over the bar with Sorensen nowhere.
A scrappy start to the second half saw Stoke enjoy their best spell but City’s defence were more than equal to the challenge.
City again spurned a good chance on 56 minutes when a swift breakout of defence saw Tevez surge down the right before crossing to the unmarked Silva who took too long to get his shot away.
With the clock ticking down, Mancini took the bold move to replace Gareth Barry with the more attacking option of Adam Johnson on 74 minutes.
A minute later, Toure struck the decisive blow for City. A shot from Balotelli deflected off Marc Wilson and fell kindly to the former Barcelona midfielder who blasted an unstoppable first-time shot past Sorensen.
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney scored the goal that gave Manchester United a record 19th English title in a 1-1 draw away to Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on Saturday.
Needing just a point to regain the Premier League title from Chelsea, United got it when England striker Rooney scored from the penalty spot 17 minutes from time after Rovers keeper Paul Robinson brought down Javier Hernandez.
Australia’s Brett Emerton had fired Rovers, still not certain of top-flight survival, into a 20th minute lead before Rooney settled United’s nerves with a powerful spot-kick.
The result gave United, now in sole possession of a record they had shared with arch-rivals Liverpool an unassailable seven-point lead at the top of the English Premier League table, with closest pursuers Chelsea only able to win a maximum of six points from their two remaining matches.
“I was terrified, the ref took a long time to give it,” Rooney told Sky Sports in relation to the penalty.
“I had to compose myself, I’d been practising all week.”
Rooney, who earlier in the season stunned United by handing in a transfer request, added: “After the year I’ve had, with the ups and downs, this is for the fans and the team.”
United’s latest triumph gave both manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs a 12th English title.
Asked about suggestions criticism the current team was not as good as previous United sides: “We’re champions and in the Champions League. We’re rubbish aren’t we?
“Twenty years ago we were nowhere near Liverpool. It’s great credit to the club, the manager and the players and it’s a good feeling to be ahead of our greatest rivals.”
At the other end of the table, Wolves climbed a point clear of the relegation zone after a 3-1 win away to Sunderland.
Former Sunderland defender Jody Craddock gave Wolves a 22nd minute lead on his return to the Stadium of Light before a failure to clear a corner allowed Stephane Sessegnon to smash home a 34th minute equaliser at the far post.
But Matt Jarvis provided the cross that allowed Steven Fletcher to head Wolves in at the far post, George Elokobi sealing victory with a header 12 minutes from time.
Blackpool – who started the day in the bottom three – remained in the relegation zone despite a dramatic 4-3 win at home to Bolton Wanderers ahead of their final game of the season away to Manchester United next weekend.
But victory put them level on 39 points with Birmingham, ahead of the Blues’ match against Fulham on Sunday.
Five goals came in a frantic first half at Bloomfield Road with striker Kevin Davies firing visitors Bolton into a second minute lead only for Blackpool forward DJ Campbell to equalise seven minutes later.
Campbell then teed-up strike partner Jason Puncheon in the 19th minute as Blackpool went 2-1 in front.
But a defence that had conceded 71 league goals this season before this match kicked-off could not deny Bolton an equaliser through Matt Taylor’s angled shot.
However, on the stroke of half-time, Campbell scored his second when he turned in Charlie Adam’s cross.
Bolton though were back on level terms at 3-3 when Daniel Sturridge headed in Lee Chung-Yong’s cross in the 53rd minute.
There was yet another twist when Adam, who led a sweeping counter-attack, shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen from 15 yards to put Blackpool 4-3 in front with just under half an hour left.
Saturday’s other match saw West Brom beat Everton 1-0, Youssouf Mulumbu scoring the only goal of the game at The Hawthorns in the tenth minute.© AAP 2013
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