With a Champions League tie against Real Madrid on the horizon Mancini rung the changes giving debuts to Scott Sinclair, Maicon and Garcia whilst Potters boss Tony Pulis resisted the temptation to hand a first start new recruit Michael Owen with the former England striker having to make do with a place on the bench.
It didn’t take the home side long to settle into their groove and they controversially took the lead after 15 minutes through Peter Crouch. The 31-year-old scored a stunning long-range volley in last seasons corresponding fixture but appeared to handle the ball as he bundled through a number of challenges before blasting an effort past Joe Hart.
Referee Mark Clattenburg allowed the goal to stand despite the visitors protestations before Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure passed up the chance to restore parity before Garcia struck on his first start for the club. The Spaniard did superbly to meet Tevez’s free kick and head past Asmir Begovic. The Stoke goalkeeper then did brilliantly to keep out Toure with his legs in the second half.
Pulis finally decided it was time to introduce Owen with less than a minute remaining but it was City who almost nicked the points in stoppage time as Ryan Shawcross denied them with an unbelievable clearance. Edin Dzeko’s intelligent lob looked destined for the net only for the Stoke centre back to race back and prevent it from crossing the line.
Mancini will hope his side perform much better when they meet Spanish champions Madrid on Tuesday whilst the Potters are now without a win in 10 games and face Chelsea next week.