Puncheon penalty stuns Stoke
Jason Puncheon (AP Photo)
London - Former Stoke City manager Tony Pulis claimed victory over his former employers after Jason Puncheon earned Crystal Palace a 1-0 success in the Premier League on Saturday.
Culpable for a dreadful penalty miss in last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, Puncheon scored the game's only goal to fire Palace off the foot of the table and out of the relegation zone.
Palace finished the day two points and two places above the bottom three, with Stoke only two points better off in 13th place after a fifth successive league game without a win.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes had excluded striker Kenwyne Jones following his refusal to play in last weekend's 5-3 defeat by Liverpool and he saw his side make an encouraging start to the game at Selhurst Park.
Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni had to produce an impressive save to repel a header from Marc Wilson, while Erik Pieters crashed a shot into the side-netting after steaming upfield from left-back.
Palace, in contrast, looked short on ideas. Oussama Assaidi proved a source of menace on the left, but when he curled an inviting ball into the box in the 35th minute, Jonathan Walters could not make contact.
The game needed a goal and in the 51st minute it got one, with Puncheon picking up a loose ball inside the Stoke area and drilling a low shot through the legs of Ryan Shawcross and into the bottom corner.
Hughes introduced Stephen Ireland in place of Glenn Whelan and the visitors almost drew level in the 64th minute when Charlie Adam thrashed a shot narrowly wide.
Peter Crouch also went close with a curling effort that missed the post by inches, but it took a breath-taking triple save from Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland to prevent Palace from adding to their lead in the closing stages.