Marko Arnautovic scored the only goal of the game as Stoke City battled to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park in the Premier League on Saturday.
Aston Villa 0 Stoke 1
Stoke start the stronger
Potters have goal disallowed
Arnautovic gives Stoke the win
Stoke were by far the better side early on as Aston Villa struggled to find their feet at Villa Park and both Mame Biram Diouf and Charlie Adam had great chances to give the visitors the lead before Arnautovic had his goal disallowed in an entertaining first half.
Despite Villa working their way back into the game late in the opening period, the second 45 began much the same as the first and Stoke took a deserved lead in the 55th minute through Arnautovic and held on for a good win.
Stoke City burst out of the blocks against a shell-shocked Villa side and Diouf nearly gave them the lead within the first five minutes but Micah Richards was able to get across to block the Senegal striker's shot.
After scoring a spectacular goal from near the halfway line against Chelsea earlier in the season, Adam tried again from a similar position in the 18th minute and Brad Guzan had to back pedal briskly to tip the audacious shot wide.
Arnautovic thought he had given the Potters the lead in the 34th minute after poking in a beautiful cross from Bojan, but the goal was ruled out for a marginal offside.
Villa recover and made an even game of it for the rest of the first half but, after the break, it was more of the same as Stoke surged forward once again.
The relentless pressure paid off in the 55th minute as Arnautovic eventually got his goal with an accurate finish after running on to a delicious through ball from Glenn Johnson.
The hosts should have been instantly back on level terms after a cross found Richards completely unmarked in the Stoke boss, but the defender was disappointingly unable to hit the target.
Villa's response continued to look promising as they pushed forward in search on an equaliser, but were thwarted time and again by a solid Stoke defence as they secured an important three points away from home.