Yaya Toure scored the only goal as Manchester City won their first trophy for 35 years after deservedly overcoming Stoke City at Wembley.Roberto Mancini’s side went into the game as firm favourites against Stoke, who had never reached the final before, and it appeared they would regret failing to make the most of numerous first-half chances.
But Ivorian Toure, who scored the winner in City’s semi-final victory over local rivals Manchester United, blasted home when a loose ball fell to him with just 16 minutes left to give City the win that their performance merited.
Both managers fielded their strongest line-ups as Carlos Tevez came through a late fitness test for City, as did Matthew Etherington and Robert Huth for Tony Pulis’ Stoke.
And it was the favourites who started the stronger.
Tevez took just five minutes before he tested Thomas Sorensen in the Stoke goal with a low drive, with Ryan Shawcross was fortunate not to score an own goal as he deflected a low Aleksander Kolarov cross into the side netting.
It was all City in the opening half-hour as Toure fired a shot inches wide from 35 yards, before Sorensen produced a sensational save, somehow pushing Mario Balotelli’s curling effort past the far post when it appeared the Italian had surely scored from just inside the area.
Yet City should have taken the lead after 35 minutes.
Tevez started the move, playing the ball over the top for Balotelli to chase, and when the Italian was denied by Sorensen it seemed David Silva had to score, only for the Spaniard to volley the ball into the ground and watch in horror as it bounced over the unguarded net from just seven yards out.
It was a poor miss, and City must have wondered if they were going to regret their profligacy, especially when Silva failed to even have a shot at goal when Tevez played him through on goal early in the second-half.
Stoke were much improved, though, and City were indebted to Joe Hart for saving well when Kenwyne Jones had a shot from six yards out after chasing a long ball and getting the better of Joleon Lescott.
It appeared certain that the game was going to go into extra-time as neither side was able to make any real impression going forward as full-time drew near.
But with 16 minutes left, City made the breakthrough.
It was a scrappy goal in truth – not that City will mind – as Silva looked to combine with Tevez down the left.
When the ball was played into the box Balotelli’s effort hit Marc Wilson and fell perfectly for Toure to run on and smash a left-footed effort past Sorensen from eight yards.
The goal sparked scenes of wild celebration in the City end and appeared to knock the wind out of Stoke, who never looked likely to recover as Mancini’s men hung on to claim the first trophy of the Sheikh Mansour era.