English Premiership

Stoke sink Everton

2011-12-04 19:19
Robert Huth (AP)

Liverpool - Robert Huth's first goal of the season gave Stoke a hard-fought 1-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Although Huth is a defender by trade, the German international has developed a habit of causing havoc from Stoke's set-pieces until this season when he had gone without a goal before his decisive first-half strike sunk the Toffees.

Huth's clever finish condemned Everton to a fourth home defeat this season and lifted Stoke above their opponents into eighth place on the Premier League table.

Greek striker Apostolos Vellios was handed only his second Everton start as the 19-year-old, who scored his third goal of the season in last weekend's win at Bolton, came in for Louis Saha.

As a tribute to former captain Gary Speed both teams walked out to the Welsh national anthem as opposed to the familiar "Z Cars" theme tune.

Speed's father Roger was among a number of his son's former team-mates invited on to the pitch to join in a minute's applause before kick-off, while mascots wearing the kits of Wales and all the clubs represented by the midfielder joined the group around the centre-circle.

Everton midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov completed miscued an early striker after a flick on by Vellios.

The Russian's next intervention was even more costly for Everton as it led to the opening goal in the 15th minute.

Bilyaletdinov's weak header from Matthew Etherington's corner dropped to Dean Whitehead on the edge of the penalty area and he drilled in a shot which Huth cleverly flicked past Tim Howard from close range.

Stoke were posing the greater goal threat and when Glenn Whelan's left-wing cross was flicked on both Ryan Shawcross and Ryan Shotton were inches away from connecting at the far post.

Shawcross's header just before the interval was tipped over by Howard and even when Everton had a sight of goal Marouane Fellaini nodded Bilyaletdinov's corner wide.

With Everton showing few signs of improvement after half-time, their manager David Moyes sent on England midfielder Jack Rodwell in place of Bilyaletdinov in a bid to shake his side out of their lethargy.

The home side had a penalty appeal in the 67th minute when Huth carelessly opted to leave a Leighton Baines pass and Tim Cahill nipped in front of Thomas Sorensen.

Sorensen collided with Cahill and the Stoke goalkeeper appeared to miss the the ball in the process, but referee Lee Mason awarded a corner rather than a spot-kick.

Sorensen, still feeling the effects of the clash with Cahill, departed on a stretcher moments later leaving Asmir Begovic to see out the remaining 20 minutes.

Six minutes from time John Heitinga missed another Baines cross six yards out as Everton failed to land an equaliser.

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