A Marco Arnautovic brace was enough to see Stoke City through to a 2-1 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
- Stoke City 2 Aston Villa 1
- Dire first half
- Arnautovic scores from the spot
- Before heading in his second
- Potters move up to eighth
The Aston Villa defence were the stars of a first half devoid of goalmouth action in which the best chance was a deflected cross that would have been credited as an own goal had it gone in.
There was plenty of action in the second half however, as Arnautovic gave Stoke the lead from the penalty spot after Ashley Westwood brought down Phil Bardsley in the box in the 50th minute.
The Austrian added his second five minutes later before Leandro Bacuna fortuitously pulled one back for the visitors in the 79th minute.
In the end, it would turn out to be a mere consolation as Stoke held on for a 2-1 win to move up to eighth in the Premier League table.
Stoke City made a fine start to the game against Aston Villa and Mark Bunn had to pull off an acrobatic diving save to keep his side level after Ibrahim Afellay’s cross took a deflection towards goal off Jores Okore in the seventh minute .
Unfortunately for the fans, that was the best chance of a scrappy first half characterised by some excellent defending from Joloen Lescott and Jores Okore at the heart of the Villans’ defence.
Thankfully, the action picked up substantially in the second period and the Potters grabbed the lead through Marko Arnautovic from the penalty spot in the 50th minute after Westwood was penalised for a sloppy challenge on Bardsley in the box.
Just five minutes later, Stoke and Arnautovic had their second after Xherdan Shaqiri showed off his skill on the right wing to create space for a cross to the unmarked Austrian striker, who first headed the ball straight up into the air before chesting the ball home into an empty net.
He should have had his hattrick in the 64th minute after Philipp Wollscheid delivered a tantalising corner into the box, but Arnautovic sent his header inches wide.
Barely a minute later Shaqiri produced another fine save out of Bunn after casually striding through the Villa defence.
The visitors attempted to fight their way back into the game but were continually thwarted by a resolute Stoke defence.
However, they did find some joy in the 75th minute when Aly Cissokho found some space on the edge of the Potters area, but hit his shot poorly and it flew high and wide, wasting a big opportunity,
Four minutes later, they got their reward and a bit of luck as the ball appeared to strike Rudy Gestede on the arm on the way through to Bacuna, but the referee did not blow his whistle and the Dutch striker kept his cool to slide the ball past Jack Butland.
The goal would have no effect on the result though as Stoke held on for what turned out to be a slightly nervy 2-1 win.