Lambert gets off to winning start as Stoke defeat Huddersfield
The new manager inspired his team to a victory which lifted them out of the bottom three.
Paul Lambert made a winning start as Stoke manager as a 2-0 home victory against Huddersfield saw them climb out of the relegation zone.
Lambert had only had this week to work with his players but he had visibly lifted them and on Saturday Stoke did not look like a team who had been beaten on eight of their last 11 Premier League outings.
Roared on by a crowd fuelled with optimism, Stoke started brightly but they had to wait until the second half for the goals to come as Joe Allen and then Mame Diouf got their names on the score sheet.
Lambert watched the 3-0 defeat at Manchester United from the stands and he made four changes from the team that started on Monday night. Ryan Shawcross and Erik Pieters made their returns from injury while Charlie Adam and Diouf were also recalled.
New signing Kostas Stafylidis was not involved while Peter Crouch was one of the players to drop down to the bench, amid speculation that Chelsea are interested in signing the big striker.
A minute’s applause to remember Cyrille Regis was followed by a crescendo of roars and encouragement by the home fans and their team responded with a good first half display.
An early burst into the penalty area from Allen kept the atmosphere inside the bet365 Stadium at fever pitch before Xherdan Shaqiri almost broke through the Huddersfield defence.
It was clear that Lambert had told his players to get the ball forward quickly but while Stoke’s energy and pressing was impressive, it did not yield any scoring opportunities.
But the visitors weathered the storm and when Steve Mounie sent an effort narrowly wide and Huddersfield applied some pressure of their own with a couple of corners, the atmosphere inside the ground changed a little.
Stoke needed a goal to get rid of the nervousness and they would have got it just before half-time but for a fine save from Jonas Lossl.
You could perhaps criticise Shaqiri for taking the shot on sooner but his attempt to chip the goalkeeper would have paid off had Lossl not reacted brilliantly with an outstretched hand.
Shaqiri was involved again right at the start of the second half and thought he had made the breakthrough with an acrobatic volley which went in off the underside of the crossbar, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Stoke would not have to wait much longer, though. Adam set Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting free down the left and his cut back was steered into the bottom corner of the net by Allen after 53 minutes.
The hosts had their tails up and the bet365 Stadium was rocking. Shaqiri brought another couple of saves from Lossl before a lovely flick set up Diouf for the second goal in the 69th minute, with the Senegalese sliding a shot into the net off the inside of a post.
Huddersfield had offered very little as an attacking threat but there was a rare piece of work for Jack Butland to do when Rajiv van La Parra’s 20-yard shot stung his palms.
Collin Quaner glanced a header wide late on for Huddersfield, who are now without a win in six Premier League matches.