Walters hands Stoke a successful return

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The Independent Football

Stoke City marked their first game in major European competition in 37 years with a win last night but take only a narrow advantage to Hajduk Split next week in their Europa League third qualifying round tie.

Jonathan Walters lit up a capacity crowd at the Britannia Stadium with the only goal of the game in the third minute, heading in Matthew Etherington's precise cross. Kenwyne Jones and Ryan Shawcross had chances to increase Stoke's lead in a lively opening but Tony Pulis's side rather ran out of steam in the second half.

The Stoke manager later bemoaned his team's wastefulness but was still confident they would go through. "We'll go to Split and if we score a goal, they will have to score three to beat us," Pulis said.

A strong Fulham line-up endured a frustrating night in Croatia as they were held 0-0 by RNK Split. Even though Martin Jol fielded first-choice strikers Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson, the home side came closest to snatching victory. Ante Erceg shot wide in the sixth minute when through on goal and Duje Cop was equally wasteful after a smart turn in the penalty area.