Zabaleta strikes late as Man City edge past Stoke
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Manchester City booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup as Pablo Zabaleta scored a late winner with a neat finish to beat an organised Stoke City 1-0 on Saturday.
City enjoyed the majority of the possession and created the best opportunities but could not find a chink in the home team's armour until the 85th minute when Zabaleta arrived late in the area to poke home at the far post.
City, who beat Stoke by the same scoreline in the 2011 Cup final, had begun brightly with David Silva hitting the crossbar with a curling effort in the first half while Stoke's Ryan Shawcross put the ball in the net but his goal was ruled out for offside.
"It's a massive win on a tough pitch and it's difficult to win here," Argentine full back Zabaleta said on ITV.
"Today we were solid at the back, and up front we were very aggressive. The Stoke crowd push the team a lot and we knew it was going to be difficult for us."
The Premier League champions rested goalkeeper Joe Hart and dropped striker Sergio Aguero to the bench but still picked a strong team with Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko in a two-pronged attack.
They could have been ahead in the 21st minute when the home team allowed Spanish playmaker Silva too much space in the area and he curled his shot against the woodwork with Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen beaten.
Stoke conceded territory and possession to the visitors but were still their usual physical threat from set pieces and thought they had taken the lead on the half-hour mark.
Matthew Etherington's free kick from deep was helped on by Robert Huth and converted from close range by Shawcross from an offside position.
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