'Fantastic' Stoke delight Pulis
Stoke City 1 Dynamo Kiev 1
Friday 02 December 2011
A headed goal nine minutes from time by Kenwyne Jones ensured Stoke City qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League with a game to spare.
Needing only a point from this match to render their final match against Besiktas in Istanbul a relatively relaxed affair, the Potters were out-played during the first half and deservedly fell behind before Jones ensured City's European adventure will continue into the new year.
"What we've done is fantastic, we've qualified from the most difficult group they could have put us in – nine games in Europe, nine unbeaten is an amazing achievement," said the Stoke manager, Tony Pulis.
"To be able to go to Turkey knowing I can rest one or two players is a great feeling. I'm desperate we get a western European team in the next round so the supporters can have a great night away."
Having approached their previous games in this competition with so much energy, Stoke began with the sort of attitude which suggested they were fully aware a draw would be enough. There was a lassitude about them, going forward at least.
When play did begin to stretch, it was the Ukranians who looked by far the most dangerous side. Running from deep, Oleksandr Aliyev and Oleg Gusev found space, and Gusev had already gone close when Kiev took the lead. Aliyev picked up the ball on the right and though the midfielder's shot was not the most clean of strikes, Matthew Upson stretched out a boot to wrongfoot goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who could not prevent the ball going in off the post.
Having barely managed a decent effort on goal, Stoke improved after the break. Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, the Dynamo goalkeeper, could only watch as Jermaine Pennant cracked an angled drive past him only for Yevhen Khacheridi to block on the line.
There were only nine minutes remaining when Pennant finally found his sense of direction, and his cross from the right was firmly headed home by Jones. An outstanding save by Begovic from Andrei Yarmolenko deep in added time preserved the crucial point.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Begovic: Shotton, Huth, Upson, Higginbotham: Pennant (Whitehead, 89), Palacios, Diao (Fuller, 70), Delap: Jones (Walters, 84), Jerome. Substitutes not used Nash (gk), Wilson, Shawcross, Crouch.
Dynamo Kiev (4-4-2): Shovkovskiy: Da Silva, Yussuf (Ninkovic, 86), Kacheridi, Betao: Gusev, Aliyev, Vukojevic, Yarmolenko: Ideye, Shevchenko (Almeida, 73). Substitutes not used Koval, Milevskyi, Haruna, Adi, Correa.
Referee F Meyer (Germany)
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