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Everton 3 Stoke City 4: Arnautovic the hero in thriller

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Dec 2015

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Marko Arnautovic converted from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time as Stoke City won a spectacular match with Everton 4-3.

The Austria international went to ground after a challenge from John Stones with just a few seconds left on the clock at Goodison Park on Monday and then blasted the ball home himself to help Mark Hughes’ men to all three points in dramatic fashion.

Xherdan Shaqiri had opened the scoring early on for Stoke with his first Premier League goal, only for Romelu Lukaku to hit back as both attackers put in eye-catching performances.

Switzerland international Shaqiri then doubled his personal tally shortly before the interval, but Lukaku was not to be outdone and netted to make it 2-2 after the break, his 15th league goal of the season.

Gerard Deulofeu thought he had netted the winner for the hosts on his 50th start for Everton, only for substitute Joselu to level the scoring again.

But it was Arnautovic who decided the match.

The visitors looked full of confidence following their win over Manchester United on Saturday, and they could have gone a goal up within 60 seconds. Shaqiri was quickly into the thick of the action and when he reached the byline to set up Arnautovic on the edge of the area, Ramiro Funes Mori had to do well to block the Austria international’s goalbound shot.  

Former Inter attacker Shaqiri again looked dangerous shortly afterwards following a clever ball from Bojan Krkic, but his low shot towards the far corner went just wide.  

Hughes’ men finally grabbed the lead in the 16th minute via Shaqiri after a superb team move. Bojan this time found Arnautovic inside the area, who immediately moved the ball on to Shaqiri and he coolly slotted home.

It was his maiden Premier League strike, but the hosts did not need long to draw level again, as Lukaku netted just six minutes after the opener.

He produced a calm finish after a clever throughball from James McCarthy, who was forced off due to injury just a few minutes later.  

Shaqiri was soon back running the show, and he restored Stoke’s lead in the closing minutes of the first half – although there was some debate as to whether he meant to shoot or cross.

The 24-year-old beat the offside trap and stretched out his right boot to lift Bojan’s fine pass over the helpless Tim Howard, with Arnautovic scrambling to try and get into the area.

At the other end, Lukaku continued to cause the Stoke defence all kinds of problems and it was the Belgian who levelled the scoring again in the 64th minute.

A brilliant long ball from Tom Cleverley this time set him away, and he did well to chest it down and then beat Jack Butland with a low, right-footed shot.

Substitute Steven Naismith was introduced as Everton sought a winner, and he missed from close range having been set up by Lukaku.

Deulofeu did find the net in the 71st minute to give Everton the lead for the first time after Ross Barkley had sent in a pin-point cross from the left – the former Barcelona winger having no trouble tapping the ball home from close range.

In a pulsating finish, Stoke refused to give up and they were rewarded for their courageous display in the 80th minute when Howard failed to deal with Arnautovic’s cross from the left and Joselu smashed home a shot from 10 yards out.

There was still time for more drama, though, as referee Mark Clattenburg awarded the visitors a penalty when Stones was adjudged to have fouled Arnautovic inside the area.

The striker stepped up himself and fired the ball down the middle to seal an amazing win.

 

Key Opta stats:

– This is only the second 4-3 defeat at Goodison Park for Everton in Premier League history, the first was in February 2004 against Manchester United.

– Romelu Lukaku has scored eight goals in his last seven Premier League appearances at Goodison Park after a run of just one goal in his previous 14 Premier League appearances there.

– The Belgian has scored the most goals in all competitions by a Premier League player this season (18).

– Romelu Lukaku has scored 40 Premier League goals for Everton, only the fifth Everton player to reach that mark (alongside Duncan Ferguson, Tim Cahill, Kevin Campbell and Leon Osman).

– Xherdan Shaqiri is the first Stoke player to score two in an away Premier League game since Peter Crouch in January 2012.

– Ross Barkley is the leading Englishman for assists in the Premier League this season (7).

– Stoke conceded more than two goals in a game for the first time this season. 

– Everton have let in 12 goals in their last six Premier League games.

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