Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Stoke City 2 Southampton 1: Crouch the hero as Potters return to winning ways

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Sep 2017

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Peter Crouch returned to haunt his former club by coming off the bench to net a late winner as Stoke City saw off Southampton 2-1 in the Premier League.

Maya Yoshida’s stunning 75th-minute volley had looked set to snatch a share of the spoils for Southampton, but, having replaced Saido Berahino – who missed a penalty in the first half, Crouch was on hand to tuck in from point-blank range with five minutes remaining.

In an attritional encounter at the Bet365 Stadium, Mame Biram Diouf’s maiden goal of the season put Stoke ahead late in the first half, before Virgil van Dijk – starting for the first time this season – gifted Mark Hughes’ side the opportunity to double their lead when he fouled Berahino.

Van Dijk’s blushes were spared by Fraser Forster though, as he kept out Berahino’s tame effort from the spot.

The former West Brom forward has now missed three top-flight penalties since his last league goal, but his replacement Crouch made no such mistake when he flicked home following Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s persistance.

Southampton rallied in search of another equaliser, with Kurt Zouma clearing Charlie Austin’s effort off the line, but Stoke held firm to bring a four-match winless run to a halt.

Stoke started brightly, Van Dijk and Forster in the thick of the action as they denied Choupo-Moting and Xherdan Shaqiri respectively.

Forster had to be alert again on the half-hour mark, getting down to his right to turn Choupo-Moting’s effort wide, but Stoke finally earned their lead soon after.

Shaqiri whipped in a quality corner from the right, and Diouf, although the ball was slightly behind him, got up high to plant a powerful header past Forster.

Stoke should have doubled their lead within two minutes when Van Dijk fouled Berahino, but Forster dived to his left to ensure the 24-year-old’s long wait for a first Stoke goal continued.

Forster came to Southampton’s rescue again after the restart, reacting sharply to stop Shaqiri’s deflected cross finding the net.

Southampton should have been level moments later, only for Shane Long to twice head over after connecting with two exceptional deliveries from Cedric Soares.

Long played a key part in Southampton’s eventual leveller, though – prodding Sofiane Boufal’s corner towards Yoshida, whose acrobatic attempt rattled in off the crossbar.

Stoke would not settle for a point, though, Choupo-Moting doing brilliantly to tee up Crouch, who nudged home to send the home crowd into raptures.

Southampton substitute Austin could have added further drama in stoppage time, but Zouma got back to hook off the line and secure a hard-fought victory.

Key Opta stats: 
– Two of the three lowest possession figures by winning teams in the Premier League this season have involved Stoke (22.9% v Arsenal in August and 29.6% v Southampton today).
– Southampton have suffered their first top-flight away defeat in five games, since losing to Chelsea in April (W2 D2 L1).
– Saido Berahino is now without a goal in 31 hours & 48 minutes of Premier League football.
– After scoring each of his first five Premier League penalties, Berahino has failed to score with each of his last three.
– Since the start of last season, Stoke have failed to convert three penalties in the Premier League, a joint-high along with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Southampton.
– Southampton have given away 10 penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season; a joint-high among current top-flight teams (also 10 for Arsenal and West Ham).
– Four of Peter Crouch’s last five Premier League goals have come as a substitute.
– Crouch is the oldest player to score in the Premier League this season (36y 243d old).

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