Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City

The City boss was far from impressed that referee Mark Clattenburg failed to spot Crouch’s handball as he knocked the ball past Gael Clichy in the box before eventually planting the ball past Joe Hart for the Potters’ opening goal.

“That was not football, it was basketball,” said Mancini. “It is possible the referee didn’t see it because he was behind him but it was incredible.

“I didn’t see it clearly from the bench but I have seen replays afterwards and it is incredible that this wasn’t seen.”

Mancini predicted his team was in for a very tough 90 minutes – and that’s exactly what happened as City fought back from behind yet again and had to settle for a draw.

“It was difficult last year and the season before – it always is – but we have taken a point and it is over now. It is normal that top sides don’t find it easy coming to Stoke and that isn’t going to change this year.

“I thought maybe Edin Dzeko had won it for us at the end but it wasn’t to be. Maybe it’s better both teams stay at home and take a point next time around and save everyone some money! Each time we have drawn 1-1 and then gone on to win a trophy so I hope it’s the same again.”

With Sergio Aguero, several players making their debut and many returning from duty with their country, overall, the Blues’ boss wasn’t unhappy with the result.

“It was also hard because we have just returned from an international break, but I was happy that our new signings all did well today,” he added. “I took Carlos Tevez off because he had worked so hard and was tiring – plus I wanted to change things around a little.

“Javi Garcia did a very good job and both Maicon and Scott Sinclair also gave a good performance. It was not easy for them because they don’t know their team-mates very well at the moment but they should be pleased with their first 90 minutes.”

Skipper Vincent Kompany tweeted: “We played well as a team and had many opportunities to win the game. Strong defensive peformance from Stoke. On to the next one.”

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