A single goal from Yaya Toure on 74 minutes was enough to beat Stoke City and claim the FA Cup, their first since 1969.
In truth the game got the result it deserved. City had 14 shots on target to Stoke’s one and were it not for some superb goalkeeping from Thomas Sorensen they would have been out of sight by half time. At the other end, Joe Hart set a club record for the amount of clean sheets in a season (27), surpassing the previous benchmark set by Nicky Weaver back in the 1998/99 Division 2 campaign.
The much criticised Mario Balotelli put in his best performance to date in a blue shirt having also shone in the semi final win over Manchester United. The Italian was full of energy, keeping his nose clean until the post match interview when he offered an assessment of his year. “I’ve been shit all season…can I say that?” he said. It was a typically honest comment from a man never afraid to express himself, though he may now be in trouble with the FA along with team mate Micah Richards who used equally colourful language in his post match interview.
Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong pushed Balotelli close for the Man of the Match award, putting in another tough tackling performance in midfield, and was overjoyed to put his own personal disappointment of losing last year’s World Cup Final behind him.
“The feeling is unbelievable. We’ve worked so hard to win this FA Cup, and this was for all our fans,” he said. “The city will be blue for a long time!
“We deserved it because we dominated from the first minute, though they came back with their set pieces. I missed out on a World Cup medal in the summer, but I’ll happily take this at the moment.”
Vincent Kompany, who was unlucky not be lifting the trophy having skippered the side in recent weeks, believes that while it is a fantastic achievement to break the trophy drought, there is still much work to be done.
“We’ve put the foundations down and now it’s time to build a house on them,” he said, and he’s right. Securing fourth spot in the Premier League while count for nothing unless City make it through the Champions League qualifiers (presuming Arsenal do enough to hold onto third). Mancini must now be aiming for a solid European campaign coupled with a genuine title challenge as no doubt the owners will be expecting something similar.
That is all down the track though and, as Patrick Vieira said at Wembley, we’ll worry about that on Monday. Today is for celebrating the return of a sleeping giant.