Manchester City needed a late goal to advance to the next round of the FA Cup at the expense of Stoke City as they triumphed 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.
Pablo Zabaleta struck with only five minutes remaining to claim the tie for City, the marauding defender rifling home after Edin Dzeko miscontrolled in the area.
Playing in front of less than a capacity crowd, with winter conditions making travelling to the stadium difficult, City were the team that hit their stride first.
Thomas Sorensen was forced into action in the eighth minute as Carlos Tevez tried his luck after picking up David Silva’s clever pass.
Neither side looked particularly threatening for the rest of the quarter until Silva was given too much space but managed only to curl the ball against the bar.
Tevez was again in the thick of things a minute later but could not manage to direct his effort on target, firing wildly over the bar.
On the half-hour mark the homes side had the ball in the back of the net but Ryan Shawcross was ruled offside after having poked home Matthew Etherington's free-kick.
Minutes after the interval Stoke were lucky to still have 11 men on the field as Glenn Whelan lunged in two footed on Javi Garcia.
That tackle, which went unpunished, was the only highlight until the hour mark when Aleksandar Kolarov almost sneaked the ball inside the post from Dzeko’s cross.
Stoke introduced Peter Crouch to the fray and the switch almost worked to good effect as the big man headed wide in the 82nd minute.
Three minutes later City grabbed the lead and held it as Zabaleta started the move with a tackle in midfield before finishing it off as he fired past Sorensen.