02 Dec Stoke earn needed win over Swansea
Stoke claimed a much-needed three points and deepened Swansea’s woes with a 2-1 victory at the bet 365 Stadium.
This was a meeting of two out-of-form teams, with both managers playing up the encounter’s importance beforehand.
And it is Mark Hughes who can breathe a little more easily after seeing his side recover from Wilfried Bony’s early strike against his former club with goals from Xherdan Shaqiri and Mame Diouf.
The result, coupled with Crystal Palace’s draw against West Brom, dropped Swansea to the bottom of the Premier League table, making next weekend’s home clash with the Baggies even more crucial for the club and manager Paul Clement.
Bony had not scored a club goal since the two he managed for Stoke against Swansea in the same fixture last October.
Games between these two sides appear to ignite something in the striker, who beat Ryan Shawcross to Martin Olsson’s cross in just the third minute and fired a brilliant volley beyond Jack Butland.
Butland was a surprise inclusion in the Stoke side after making a speedy recovery from the broken finger he suffered on England duty last month but was left completely helpless.
It was the sixth goal scored by Bony in five matches between Stoke and Swansea, two for the Potters and four for the Welshmen.
Most significantly, it was the perfect start for Swansea, who went into the match having taken just one point from their last six matches.
Stoke had not fared much better, managing just one win in their seven previous fixtures, and the lack of confidence was clear to see as they laboured in search of an equaliser.
Long-range efforts from Joe Allen, Shaqiri and Peter Crouch did not threaten Lukasz Fabianski’s goal and there appeared no great danger until they received a helping hand from Swansea.
Leroy Fer dwelt on the ball 25 yards from his own goal and paid the price, with Allen nipping in before playing the ball through for Shaqiri, who tucked it in the corner.
Four minutes later, Stoke were ahead. Crouch, starting a second consecutive game, won a header on the edge of the box and Diouf beat Kyle Naughton to the ball.
With Diouf’s team-mates appealing for handball by Naughton, the forward ensured there was no decision for referee Neil Swarbrick to make by volleying into the top corner.
Stoke were forced into a change eight minutes into the second half when Bruno Martins Indi had to be wheeled off on a stretcher after appearing to damage his groin, with Kevin Wimmer taking his place.
Shawcross marked his 300th Premier League appearance with a fine tackle on Jordan Ayew when he looked to be clean through, while Stoke really should have extended their lead in the 67th minute only for Diouf to head wide.
Moments later, Butland produced his first meaningful save from a Ki Sung-yeung shot, and the England man then spared Shawcross’ blushes with a fine save after the captain inadvertently glanced Tom Carroll’s free-kick powerfully towards the top corner.