Two goals from Wilfried Bony helped Stoke City to their third Premier League victory in a row as they beat Swansea City 3-1 at the bet365 Stadium.
The Ivory Coast striker gave the home side the lead after only three minutes, turning in when Joe Allen miscued a shot across the box after the visitors failed to clear a corner.
Wayne Routledge levelled matters five minutes later as he headed in Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross, and fortune seemed to be on the visitors’ side as Stoke hit the woodwork three times before the break through the recalled Charlie Adam and Marko Arnautovic.
But Bob Bradley’s side handed their hosts the lead again 10 minutes into the second half, when Alfie Mawson – in only his second Premier League appearance – touched Ramadan Sobhi’s effort into his own net.
Swansea enjoyed more possession but found it difficult to provide Fernando Llorente with any meaningful service, and Bony punished their lack of attacking threat when he headed in a rebound following Allen’s shot for his fourth goal against the Swans since leaving in January 2015.
The win lifts Stoke to 12th in the table, level with champions Leicester City on 12 points, while Swansea’s miserable form means they remain second from bottom with five.
Bony needed just three minutes to put his old side on the back foot, as Allen’s mishit volley went straight through the crowded penalty area and into the striker’s path, allowing him to side-foot high into the net from inside the six-yard box.
Stoke’s lead lasted just five minutes, however. Sigurdsson made some space on the edge of the box and clipped a cross towards Routledge, who got in front of Phil Bardsley to head past the static Lee Grant from point-blank range.
Stoke looked deflated by the Swans’ swift response but Adam twice came close to regaining their advantage, first rattling the base of the post with a first-time strike from 20 yards before curling a fine effort onto the opposite upright 12 minutes later.
Allen sent Arnautovic clean through with a fine pass but the woodwork again came to Swansea’s rescue after the Austrian had rounded Lukasz Fabianski, while Grant reacted well to parry a fierce half-volley from Routledge just before the break.
Bony spurned a good chance three minutes into the second half, blazing over after Arnautovic picked him out in the area, but Stoke at last regained their lead through a nightmare moment for Mawson.
Ramadan, who replaced Xherdan Shaqiri in the first half after the Swiss winger seemed to sustain a knock, jinked his way into space in the area before firing towards the far post, only for Mawson to turn the ball into the net as he tried to clear.
Swansea kept the ball well in midfield without posing much threat to Grant’s goal, and Bony killed off any hopes of another comeback with 17 minutes to play.
Fabianski reacted well to beat away Allen’s shot after a brilliant Arnautovic pass, but the Wales midielder reacted quickest to turn the ball back towards Bony, who headed into the net from six yards.
Swansea were given a penalty in the closing stages after Erik Pieters hauled down Routledge, only for referee Michael Oliver to change the decision to a free-kick on the edge of the box after conferring with his assistant over where the initial foul took place.
The resulting effort came to nothing for the Swans, who remain without a league win since August and face Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United on Sunday.
Key Opta stats:
– Stoke have won their last three Premier League games – as many as they’d won in their previous 18 in the competition.
– The Potters scored three goals in a Premier League match for the first time since February (vs Bournemouth), while they’ve now netted 2+ goals in three straight league games for the first time since November 2010.
– Swansea have lost four consecutive Premier League away games for the first time since their first ever four games on the road in the competition in 2011.
– Joe Allen has four goals and two assists in just 10 Premier League games this season – it’s his joint-best haul in a single Premier League season (also 4 goals and 2 assists in 2011-12).
– Wayne Routledge’s goal was his first ever headed goal in the Premier League.
– Mark Hughes’ side hit the woodwork three times in the first half – the most by one side in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game since Tottenham v Blackburn in April 2012.