London: Manchester City`s 35-year wait for a trophy ended when Yaya Toure`s unstoppable shot sealed a deserved 1-0 win over Stoke City in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Having secured a place in the Champions League qualifiers for the first time, City`s fifth FA Cup and first since 1969 was the first tangible reward for Abu Dhabi`s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Al Nahyan, who bought the club in 2008 and has spent around 300 million pounds ($487.6 million) on new players.
Toure, who scored the goal that beat Manchester United in the Wembley semi-final to take City into their first final since 1981, almost broke the net with a low drilled finish after Stoke failed to clear a David Silva shot.
The meeting of arguably the richest club in world soccer and one who have just one League Cup in well over a century of mediocrity summed up the romance of the Cup and helped produce a wonderful atmosphere.
Appearing in their first final after thrashing Bolton Wanderers 5-0 in their semi, Stoke launched an attack from kick-off but then it was generally one-way traffic in the opposite direction.
Thomas Sorensen made two diving saves to keep out shots from Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli while Toure sent a 30-metre screamer whistling inches past a post.
With Stoke unable to muster any sort of attacking threat City`s nominally defensive midfielders Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong were free to push forward and Stoke were completely swamped.
The best chance of the first half came after 35 minutes when Sorensen just beat Balotelli to Barry`s excellent through-ball but could only knock it to Silva, only for the Spaniard to fire his awkward volley into the ground and the ball to bounce over the gaping net.
Silva again looked set to open the scoring 10 minutes into the second half after a rapid City counter-attack but, initially free in the box, he took too long to work the ball on to his preferred left foot and the chance was gone.
Stoke finally got a sight of goal after 62 minutes when Kenwyne Jones latched onto Matthew Etherington`s long ball but as he bore down on goal he could not get enough purchase on his finish and Joe Hart blocked.
It proved a costly miss as City quickly regained control and eventually found a way through. After a neat backheel by Balotelli and a half-cleared Silva shot the ball fell to Toure 12 metres out.
The mighty Ivorian put all his considerable power into the sweetly-struck half-volley and the result was surely one of the hardest shots to grace any of the 130 editions of the world`s oldest and cup competition. Stoke were unable to find a response and will have to settle for a place in the Europa League, a new adventure in itself.
Manchester City`s long-suffering fans, who had to endure the news of Manchester United winning a record 19th league title minutes before the final kicked off, will hope Saturday`s success is merely the launchpad for their own golden era.
"This is the start. This is the most important one," said City defender Micah Richards.
"We`ll spend in the summer and we`ll get bigger each year."