Monday 24 April 2017

Walters and Stoke punish Norwich

Jonathan Walters arrived at the far post to crash home his 11th goal of the season: Getty Images
Jonathan Walters arrived at the far post to crash home his 11th goal of the season: Getty Images
Independent Newsdesk

Independent Newsdesk

Stoke City climbed to seventh in the Premier League table with a third win in four matches after a red card for midfielder Gary O'Neil left Norwich to play for almost an hour with 10 men.

O'Neil took out Stoke's Ibrahim Affelay with a senseless lunge from behind almost on the halfway line, to the dismay of Norwich manager Alex Neil, who saw his side equalise Stoke's first goal early in the second half only to concede twice more, dealing a setback to the Canaries' bid to draw clear of the relegation places after three wins in four.

Until the red card for O'Neil it was Norwich who had looked the likelier side to go ahead, albeit with some generous help from Stoke's frequent moments of carelessness.

Given this encouragement from Norwich's play, O'Neil's madness was all the more mystifying.

Stoke made the advantage pay four minutes into the second half when Arnautovic floated a superb cross and Jonathan Walters arrived at the far post to crash home his 11th goal of the season.

Yet Mark Hughes's team were inclined to be casual and it cost them just six minutes later when Wes Hoolahan, given time and space on the left, helped set up Jonny Howson to fire an equaliser.

Alex Neil made a double substitution, sending on Nathan Redmond and Matt Jarvis as he sought now to take at least a point, but Stoke regained the lead on 67 minutes, Affelay picking up the ball from a half-cleared cross and slipping it to Joselu, who found the net with a low drive from 20 yards.

A third goal 13 minutes from time ended any hope of a recovery, Ryan Bennett heading into his own net from Affelay's free-kick after Alex Tettey had brought down Joselu.

Irish Independent

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