Crystal Palace plunged Stoke City deeper into crisis by inflicting a 4-1 thumping at Selhurst Park that leaves Mark Hughes’ side with just one point from their first five games of the Premier League season.
James Tomkins marked his first start for Palace with the opening goal on Sunday, just two minutes and 14 seconds before club captain Scott Dann netted the second.
Stoke settled but never really threatened in attack, and two more quick-fire goals in the second half secured Palace a second win of the campaign.
James McArthur scored the third for Alan Pardew’s side, courtesy of a deflection, before Andros Townsend capped a match-winning performance by netting a brilliant solo goal 15 minutes from time, with Marko Arnautovic’s injury-time strike a mere consolation goal for the visitors.
Palace, who beat Middlesbrough 2-1 in their previous outing, had not secured back-to-back wins in the league since December 2015, but with Townsend and fellow winger Wilfried Zaha providing a constant threat down the wings they look capable of troubling many opponents.
Hughes, meanwhile, will need to engineer a drastic improvement in his defence if Stoke are to avoid falling far short of last season’s ninth-place finish.
The Potters had started promisingly enough, Bruno Martins Indi playing Jonathan Walters in on goal with a lovely threaded pass after five minutes, only to find the striker had strayed offside.
But Stoke’s lack of confidence at the back was evident as soon as Townsend and Zaha began to attack them down the flanks, and the latter won a free-kick when he was bundled over by Arnautovic.
Townsend looped the free-kick towards the far post and, when Walters failed to deal with the threat, Tomkins nipped in and bundled the ball past Shay Given.
Palace continued to press and were rewarded just two minutes later when Jason Puncheon’s corner was powered home by the head of skipper Dann, who was allowed a free header by Stoke’s defenders.
Stoke eventually managed to stem the flow of Palace attacks but midfield playmakers Bojan and Arnautovic were given no space or time on the ball to create chances for the visitors, who trailed by two at the break.
Ryan Shawcross aimed a header on target from Bojan’s corner early in the second half that Steve Mandanda saved easily, as Stoke looked brighter immediately after half-time.
Palace continued to create chances and Dann would have scored his second goal of the game had Bojan not hooked his header off the line following Puncheon’s corner.
Townsend’s relentless industry down the flanks created a chance that Zaha spurned from close range, while at the other end Bojan flashed a shot just wide.
Chances for Martins Indi and Shawcross went begging for Stoke before McArthur picked up a poor headed clearance and fired a shot that took a wicked deflection off Geoff Cameron on its way past Shay Given to make it 3-0 in the 71st minute.
Four minutes later, Townsend was rewarded for an all-action performance when he ran from inside his own half and jinked past Joe Allen before applying a finish that will have caught the eye of England manager Sam Allardyce to make it 4-0.
Stoke squandered a number of late chances before finally getting a consolation when Wilfried Bony fed Arnautovic and the Austrian slammed it past Mandanda from outside the area. Impressive as the goal was, it came far too late to save Mark Hughes’ men.
Key Opta stats:
– Stoke have picked up just one point from their opening five Premier League games; their worst start to a top-flight season since 1951-52 (one point).
– Since the start of last season, Crystal Palace have scored more Premier League goals via defenders (12) than any other side.
– Stoke have only netted eight goals in their last 11 Premier League games; scoring more than once on just one occasion.
– Scott Dann has scored seven league goals since the start of the 2015-16 season; two more than any other Palace player and two more than any other Premier League defender.
– James Tomkins scored his first Premier League goal since December 2014 (38 games without a goal).
– Stoke have conceded 50 goals in 2016; more than any other Premier League team.
– Crystal Palace have scored four goals or more in a Premier League match at Selhurst Park for the third time in their history.
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