Swansea come back at Stoke to move closer to Premier League safety
Published 02/04/2016 | 17:26
Swansea took another step towards Premier League safety as they came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke.
The Europe-chasing Potters looked destined for a fifth win in seven games after Ibrahim Afellay, on his 30th birthday, and Bojan Krkic had put them 2-0 up with goals in the 13th and 53rd minutes respectively.
But Jakob Haugaard - in the Stoke goal as a replacement for the injured Jack Butland - was then beaten twice on his Barclays Premier League debut, by Gylfi Sigurdsson's strike in the 68th minute and then substitute Alberto Paloschi's deflected shot 11 minutes later.
The result sees 15th-placed Swansea remain 10 points clear of the relegation zone, while Stoke stay eighth after what they will certainly regard as two points dropped.
It was the visitors who fashioned the contest's first attempt on goal, with Bafetimbi Gomis' strike deflecting narrowly wide in the eighth minute.
There was then a nervy moment seconds later from Haugaard as he met the resulting corner with an unconvincing punch.
But having emerged from those opening exchanges unscathed, Stoke soon took control.
They grabbed the lead when neither Federico Fernandez nor Angel Rangel did enough to stop Marko Arnautovic on the left, and he delivered a fine cross that Afellay, more or less unmarked, had little trouble converting with his head from close range.
Swansea struggled to make much of a response and their frustration appeared evident when Ashley Williams made a rash sliding challenge on Joselu. Stoke fans called for a red card but referee Martin Atkinson showed the Swans captain a yellow.
Joselu then leapt well to connect with Glenn Whelan's free-kick, only to send it straight into the arms of Lukasz Fabianski.
And Bojan, who was growing into the game, went on a great run past several Swansea men before laying the ball to Afellay, who blasted off-target.
At the other end, a solid defensive effort from the hosts restricted Swansea to harmless efforts from Leroy Fer and Gomis, plus a low Jack Cork shot that Haugaard saved comfortably.
There was little indication that the pattern of the game would change when Bojan then doubled Stoke's lead shortly after the interval, the Spaniard collecting the ball from Whelan in the middle of the Swansea half, being allowed by the away defence to advance to the edge of the box and hitting a shot that Fabianski got a hand to and perhaps should have saved.
However, the Welsh side pulled a goal back when Sigurdsson received Wayne Routledge's cross, turned on the edge of the box and unleashed an effort that bamboozled Haugaard.
The introduction of Jefferson Montero, on just before Sigurdsson's goal, had helped invigorate the visitors and after he delivered a dangerous cross that was not finished off, another Swansea substitute then made a telling impact as Paloschi got away from Geoff Cameron and sent a deflected effort past Haugaard.
Stoke desperately sought to regain the lead in the last few minutes but it was to no avail, as Arnautovic put a free-kick into the side-netting and Afellay struck over.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Great point for the jacks. hard place to go and to come back from 2 goals down makes the result that much better" - former Swansea striker Lee Trundle.
Jakob Haugaard: 5 (out of 10)
Erik Pieters: 6
Philipp Wollscheid: 6
Geoff Cameron: 5
Phil Bardsley: 6
Giannelli Imbula: 6
Glenn Whelan: 7
Marko Arnautovic: 7
Bojan Krkic: 7
Ibrahim Afellay: 7
Mame Diouf (for Bojan, 74 mins): 5
Stephen Ireland (for Whelan, 81 mins): 5
Lukasz Fabianski: 6
Kyle Naughton: 6
Federico Fernandez: 5
Ashley Williams: 5
Angel Rangel: 5
Leon Britton: 5
Jack Cork: 6
Wayne Routledge: 6
Leroy Fer: 5
Gylfi Sigurdsson: 6
Bafetimbi Gomis: 5
Jefferson Montero (for Britton, 61 mins): 7
Alberto Paloschi (for Gomis, 71 mins): 7
Neil Taylor (for Naughton, 82 mins): 5
Ibrahim Afellay. The birthday boy was at the heart of things when Stoke had what appeared a firm grip on proceedings, scored a goal, and was then still giving things a good go after Swansea had levelled. Bojan Krkic also deserves a mention for what he produced before coming off with around 15 minutes to go.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Gylfi Sigurdsson's goal. There might be questions over Jakob Haugaard as the strike went in, but Sigurdsson certainly did well to control the pass he received from Wayne Routledge, turn and fashion the shot.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Stoke boss Mark Hughes will be hugely frustrated with the outcome given his side had seemed so comfortable. Swansea head coach Francesco Guidolin deserves credit for the substitutions he made in the second half, which proved key in the visitors' fightback.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Everything was in place here for Stoke to add another victory to their push for Europe, yet somehow they let it slip. A major opportunity missed.
WHO'S UP NEXT
Liverpool v Stoke, Premier League (Sunday, April 10)
Swansea v Chelsea, Premier League (Saturday, April 9)