While most Premier League managers view this competition with similar levels of trepidation reserved for a trip to the dentists, Tony Pulis could not be taking it more seriously.
Eight games unbeaten in Europe is proof that Pulis' determination to field his strongest possible teams is paying off after another stirring night here. Jon Walters, who only four years ago was operating in the lower leagues with Chester City, provided the vital goal from the penalty spot to leave Stoke in control in Group E as Besiktas failed to become the first Turkish team to win a Europa League tie in this country.
Despite a testing trip to Swansea in the Premier League on Sunday, Pulis's commitment to this competition is to be admired. "Everyone is really up for this," he said. "The whole club is excited by this. It's new to the players and the supporters. We have a responsibility to this club and our supporters to try our best. I think Besiktas are a massive danger in this group. We have to win our home games, this is a good start against a very good side.
Besiktas, who destroyed Maccabi Tel Aviv 5-1 in their first group game, were not daunted by the abrasive approach of the hosts early on and in Ricardo Quaresma, the richly talented Portugal winger, had silk to go with the steel. It was Quaresma's exquisite pass after 14 minutes that released Roberto Hilbert, with the defender fortuitously poking a shot past Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
However, barely a minute had elapsed until Stoke restored parity. Besiktas goalkeeper Rustu Recber, the vastly experienced Turkey international, had another senior moment when he failed to punch Dean Whitehead's corner out and Peter Crouch scored from four yards out. It was his 27th goal in 51 European appearances.
Stoke were dominant in the second half. Walters, a substitute, struck a post, while Recber repaired his reputation with saves from Whitehead and Walters. But Walters rewarded Stoke's second-half superiority from the penalty spot, after Crouch was bundled over by Tomas Sivok to go top of Group E. Teams will not relish coming to the Potteries.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Shotton, Huth, Shawcross, Upson; Delap, Palacios (Whelan, 60), Whitehead, Etherington (Pennant, 51); Crouch, Jerome (Walters, 59). Substitutes not used Nash (gk), Wilson, Wilkinson, Arismendi.
Besiktas (4-4-1-1): Recber; Hilbert, Sivok, Korkmaz, Koybasi; Aurelio (Holosko, 82), Quaresma, Uysal (Ernst, 75), Fernandes; Simao; Edu. Substitutes not used Gonen (gk), Kavlak, Pektemek, Dag, Sidnei.
Referee A Gautier (France).Reuse content