Graham opens league account to complete Swans' day

Swansea City 2 Stoke City 0
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The Independent Football

Danny Graham began to repay his £3.5m transfer fee by scoring his first Premier League goal for Swansea City to seal a morale-boosting victory over Stoke City as footballing beauty beat the "Beast" yesterday.

The Swans' record signing from Watford in the summer had not found the back of the net in five attempts for the Welsh club in the top flight. But, after Scott Sinclair's ninth-minute penalty, Graham ended his long wait in the 85th minute after dispossessing former Middlesbrough team-mate Jonathan Woodgate before coolly beating Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to open his Swansea account.

The Swansea manager, Brendan Rodgers, said: "Danny has been outstanding since he arrived at the club, but when you have his quality then it was only a matter of time.

"It was a wonderful finish. He was under pressure one versus one and lots of strikers would lash at it and miss the chance. He showed great composure and technique in his finish. It's great for him to get off the mark because he knows strikers are judged on goals."

Rodgers believes his side can claim 10 home victories this season and Swansea were on their way to triumph No 2 after Sinclair's opener. A precise through-ball from the outstanding Joe Allen did not appear to threaten the Stoke backline until Ryan Shawcross clumsily upended Wayne Routledge, leaving referee Michael Jones with little option but to signal towards the spot.

The award of the spot-kick was, bizarrely, in almost identical fashion to the one Swansea gladly received against West Bromwich Albion two weeks previously. Rodgers' men had the same end result as Sinclair coolly stepped up on a humid afternoon to send Begovic the wrong way.

Stoke, fresh from their Europa League victory over Turkish side Besiktas on Thursday night, began slowly, but gradually imposed their renowned physicality on to this hard-fought battle and could have drawn level on 21 minutes.

Jonathan Walters outmuscled Mark Gower and the Republic of Ireland striker saw his excellent 25-yard effort tipped on to the crossbar by the Swansea keeper Michel Vorm.

Stoke should have gone down to 10 men following a reckless tackle from Andy Wilkinson on pint-sized winger Nathan Dyer, but Jones cautioned the Potters full-back as well as Peter Crouch for a late challenge on Gower.

Glenn Whelan hit the post with a second-half free-kick for Stoke then Sinclair forced Begovic into a superb flying save before Graham sealed the win.

Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, said: "Ryan's challenge was poor and it gave Swansea the start everyone in the Premier League wants. It lifted them.

"We hit the post and woodwork and, from that point until the second goal, I thought we were the team who would get the equaliser," he added.

Substitutes: Swansea Moore 6 (Routledge, 66), Lita (Graham, 90). Stoke Huth 5 (Wilson, 33), Jerome 5 (Delap, 54), Shotton (Pennant, 80). Booked: Swansea Taylor, Routledge, Gower. Stoke Wilkinson, Whelan, Pennant, Shotton, Crouch.

Man of the match Allen. Match rating 6/10.

Possession: Swansea 55% Stoke 45%.

Attempts on target: Swansea 5 Stoke 6.

Referee M Jones (Cheshire).

Attendance 19,523.