Substitute Mame Biram Diouf’s late header sealed a first Premier League win of the season for Stoke City as they overcame AFC Bournemouth 2-1 on Saturday.
Jonathan Walters gave the hosts the lead with a tap-in after 32 minutes in a first half that was severely delayed by a serious injury to AFC Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson.
The Premier League’s joint top scorer needed extensive medical treatment with just seven minutes gone at the beginning of a difficult afternoon for the visitors, who looked to have rescued a point when Dan Gosling slotted home midway through the second half only for Diouf to head in Glen Johnson’s superb cross.
The injury to Wilson left AFC Bournemouth struggling to replicate the attacking verve displayed in the win over Sunderland last week and is likely to play on the mind of manager Eddie Howe, with Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings already long-term injury concerns.
In contrast, the result will ease the pressure on Stoke boss Mark Hughes, whose side were in the midst of their worst start to a Premier League season.
The crushing setback to Wilson came within a sloppy opening 10 minutes, with the striker quickly signalling to the bench following an innocuous challenge from Philipp Wollscheid.
Despite his attempts to continue, the 23-year old was eventually forced off, giving way to close-season signing Glenn Murray.
That blow allowed the hosts to build momentum and Bojan Krkic should have done better to test Artur Boruc with an angled drive inside the area after 23 minutes, following some good work from Walters on the right.
Boruc was called upon again to block Glenn Whelan’s drilled effort from distance a minute later as Stoke continued to press.
Their efforts were rewarded just after half an hour when Marko Arnautovic weaved his way to the byline on the left, before pulling back for Walters to tap home from six yards.
Only a last-ditch tackle from Erik Pieters prevented Matt Ritchie from equalising just before the break, but Stoke continued to look the better team during the nine minutes of stoppage time, with Arnautovic prodding wide after a sweeping counter-attack.
Bojan was inches away from doubling the lead 10 minutes after the interval, but failed to connect with Charlie Adam’s whipped cross.
AFC Bournemouth battled on as the game approached the hour and did well to upset the rhythm of the hosts, but Stoke still looked largely untroubled.
That all changed 14 minutes from time when Gosling pounced on a loose ball inside the box following Marc Pugh’s drive to stroke home an unlikely equaliser.
Gosling could have sealed a winner late on but saw a bending effort parried away by Jack Butland as Stoke, who looked comfortable before the break, begun to falter.
But the hosts sealed the win when substitute Diouf found himself on the end of Johnson’s pinpoint cross to head home.