Jerome's red card sours Stoke victory

Stoke City 3 Maccabi Tel-Aviv 0
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The Independent Football

Stoke's debut campaign in the Europa League maintained its impressive momentum with a win over the 19-times champions of Israel that gives them seven points from three matches at the top of Group E, two ahead of Dinamo Kiev.

It was achieved despite the first-half sending off of striker Cameron Jerome after picking up two yellow cards in the space of 10 minutes from Greek referee Anastasios Kakos, the second for a foul on Maccabi Tel-Aviv full back Yoav Ziv, who was himself sent off 10 minutes into the second half for kicking his boot at assistant referee Christos Akrivos.

Ziv's red card, a moment of classic comedy, removed any hope the visitors might have had of capitalising on their numerical advantage. Annoyed when referee Kakos did not give him a free kick after Ryan Shotton trod on his left foot, Ziv picked up his boot, which had come off the in challenge, half put it back on and then swung his foot in the direction of the assistant referee, at which the boot flew off and struck Mr Akrivos on the side. A straight red was the inevitable consequence.

Stoke were already three goals up before Jerome was dismissed as woeful Maccabi defending allowed Kenwyne Jones, Jerome and Shotton to sweep the home side into a commanding lead.

The Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, said the referee ought to have been mindful of how much a near-23,000 crowd had paid to be entertained before he "killed the game with the red cards" but admitted he had not seen the Ziv dismissal, which was an entertainment in itself.

Yet he could not disguise his pleasure at a convincing Stoke performance. "We have a tough match against Arsenal coming up on Sunday and we made seven changes but for the first half-hour we looked really sharp," he said.

Jones, making his first start for a month, needed only 12 minutes to score as Maccabi's vulnerability in the air was painfully exposed, the former Sunderland striker rising unchallenged to head home Dean Whitehead's corner. Jerome made it two after 25 minutes, cashing in on more static defending to nod Matthew Etherington's inswinging free-kick past a hopelessly unprotected Guy Haimov.

Seven minutes later, Maccabi failed to react again as a Haimov goal-kick was headed back robustly into their half by Marc Wilson. Jerome gave chase and was able to pick out Shotton, who swept home the third. But for Jerome's red card – for a second yellow issued when Ziv reacted to his challenge by dropping to the turf clutching his throat – it would have been half of unqualified success for Stoke.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Huth (Walters, 76), Shawcross, Upson, Wilson (Wilkinson, 61); Shotton, Whitehead, Diao, Etherington (Palacios, 79); Jones, Jerome. Substitutes not used Nash (gk), Whelan, Delap, Crouch.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv (4-1-2-2-1): Haimov; Saban, Yeiny, Pavicevic (Vered, 64) Ziv; Puncec; Dahan, Medunjanin; Israllevich (Micha, 75) Atar (Colautti, 41); Konate. Substitutes not used Levy (gk), Dabbur, Micha, Kehat, Lugassi, Colsutti, Vered.

Referee A Kakos (Greece).