A ruthless 15 minutes from Manchester City ripped up Stoke’s hopes in the Premier League Cup final in incredible style.
The match was fiercely contested and tight for the best part of an hour, with Sam Edozie’s deflected goal the only difference and Stoke fighting hard for a leveller.
But then came the onslaught.
Liam Delap doubled the lead with a brilliant solo goal after cutting in from the left until he eventually found an opening in the defence.
And the game was beyond Stoke when keeper Nathan Broome’s clearance was intercepted and James McAtee took advantage, poking home from close range. Then McAtee got his second when he floated a shot into the net from the left.
Captain Cole Palmer took advantage of a slip to make it five and helped himself to a second from the spot after Delap had been tripped in the box.
Watched by Michael O’Neill, Tony Scholes, Ryan Shawcross and his family, Lasse Sorensen, Andy Wilkinson and an army of Stoke fans, this was a rough end to a competition which has showcased the best of this under-18s side.
Stoke had started at a furious tempo, pressing high and fast against a Man City team who remained resolute they were going to try to pass it out from the back.
Mo Sankoh and Andre Godfrinne were forcing little mistakes – and the way Mo Akandji steamed into meet Adam Porter’s second-minute corner, they were intimidating the home defence. Godfrinne hit a gilt-edged chance over from close range from another early Porter corner too.
But Man City could break so quickly if they could past that streaming front line – and it wasn’t long before they created a couple of even better chances of their own.
Delap twisted past Akandji in the box before he was forced into a dead end and Palmer should have put the hosts ahead when he met Edozie’s left wing cross well inside the six-yard box only to poke wide.
Lewis Macari needed to make a super flying tackle on Porter when Man City got in again and Delap smashed a header against the bar.
Delap, the son of Stoke hero Rory and a mixture of pace, power and no little skill, was often on his own in the Stoke half but that didn’t put him off when his teammates could find him – and he tried to take on four players with a burst of speed before Akandji could stop the danger.
The teams were most sparring between the boxes but Sankoh pounced on a loose back pass to almost give Stoke the lead. It was only a spinning bounce that gave keeper Cieran Slicker the chance to grab the ball under the bar.
But six minutes before the interval the breakthrough went the other way.
Edozie had been an increasingly tricky winger for Kieran Coates and Reece Jones to keep a handle on and when he drifted inside, a shot towards the back post was deflected past Nathan Broome.
Stoke might have had a perfect response when Man City misjudged a long ball and Godfrinne was confronted with an onrushing Slicker 35 yards from goal on the right. He tried to poke it past the keeper, who got a vital touch.
The visitors started the second half brightly and a driving run from Godfrinne put Man City on the back foot and got Stoke supporters at full volume.
But there was always a lurking danger at the other end and Akandji needed to be alert when Delap forced his way through to pull across goal.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep him out for long and that set the Man City tide rolling in. They retain the trophy – and Stoke go to lick their wounds.
Man City: Slicker, Robinson, Burns, Egan-Riley, Wilson-Esbrand (Charles, 80), Hodge, Bobb (Robertson, 73), McAtee, Delap (McNeill, 80), Palmer, Edozie. Subs: Mcnamara, Gyabi
Stoke: Broome, Macari, Coates, Akandji, R Jones (Sanali, 87), E Jones, Jarrett, Sparrow, Porter, Godfrinne, Sankoh. Subs: Cooper, Taylor, Malone, Varian.