Asmir Begovic made a late save and Ryan Shawcross cleared off the line as Stoke City clung on for a draw against Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City.
Peter Crouch gave the hosts an early lead at the Britannia Stadium but Javi Garcia marked his City debut by equalising before the break with a free header. Garcia almost snatched a last-minute winner but Begovic pushed his header from a corner onto a post and Shawcross chased back after Edin Dzeko lobbed the goalkeeper in injury time. It meant a fourth consecutive 1-1 draw in this fixture and Stoke's fourth draw of the season.
Stoke had thrown on Michael Owen for his debut in the last minute but his introduction came too late to make an impression.
Garcia had been one of three debutants in the visitors' side along with Maicon and Scott Sinclair, while Steven Nzonzi made his Stoke bow and Charlie Adam his first start. The champions made a positive start as Sinclair broke into the box to whip in a low ball but Robert Huth cleared.Carlos Tevez also fought off the attention of Nzonzi to get away a shot from long distance but it was deflected narrowly wide.
Stoke went ahead after 15 minutes when Crouch, with his back to goal, controlled a Jon Walters cross and turned Joleon Lescott. He enjoyed a slice of luck as the ball took a ricochet off Garcia but he still showed nimble footwork to tuck the ball away.
City looked for a response and Tevez played in Mario Balotelli with a superb through-ball. Balotelli wrong-footed the defence with a smart turn but clipped a well-struck left-foot effort over the bar. Yaya Toure then whipped a long-range free-kick just over after Balotelli had been fouled.
City's equaliser came from another free-kick. Garcia was allowed a free header as he ran in to make firm contact with Tevez's curling cross. The visitors almost went ahead moments later as Maicon forced Begovic to tip around a post a powerful low volley.
Stoke made a positive start to the second half and Michael Kightly, coming into the game after a quiet first half, also got forward but saw his shot blocked by Maicon.
Toure attempted to spark his side into life and charged forward to play a fine-looking ball through for Sinclair, who failed to reach it as Shawcross stretched out a foot but the ball rebounded for Toure, who brought a superb save out of Begovic.
Owen received a huge ovation when he warmed up but manager Tony Pulis resisted the temptation to use him until the last minute.
City pressed for a late winner and Samir Nasri turned in the area and went down under pressure but nothing was given. The Frenchman then stung the palms of Begovic with an 18-yard effort moments later.
In a frantic finish, Garcia was denied brilliantly by Begovic and Shawcross did just as well to prevent Dzeko snatching victory.
|22 Sep 2012||v Chelsea (A)|
|29 Sep 2012||v Swansea (H)|
|07 Oct 2012||v Liverpool (A)|
|20 Oct 2012||v Man Utd (A)|
|27 Oct 2012||v Sunderland (H)|
|03 Nov 2012||v Norwich (A)|