Stoke City 1 Everton 1 match report: Jermaine Pennant's rush of blood delivers late gift to Everton as Leighton Baines scores penalty
Oussama Assaidi had earlier put the Potters ahead at the Britannia Stadium
Thursday 02 January 2014
It was a tale of Liverpool wingers present and past as an Everton side seemingly set for defeat to a goal from Oussama Assaidi, the Moroccan on loan at Stoke from Anfield, salvaged a point thanks to the rashness of Jermaine Pennant.
With added time ticking away, Liverpool old boy Pennant first took a nibble at Leon Osman as he dribbled into the box and then stuck out a foot and tripped him, allowing Leighton Baines to beat Jack Butland from the spot.
It saved Everton from a second defeat of the Christmas period and denied Stoke a restorative victory after heavy losses at Newcastle and Tottenham. All things considered it was the fairest outcome. “Jermaine made a mistake – he has made a challenge in the box and in those situations you want full-backs and defensive-minded players,” said a rueful Mark Hughes, the Stoke manager.
Hughes hailed, with some justification, a “really good performance” from his side, who were committed as they denied Everton the time and space to dictate play.
Beaten just once at home all season, Stoke had gone in front four minutes after the break when Everton defender John Stones headed a cross from Glenn Whelan straight to Assaidi, lurking unmarked on the edge of the box, and he drove a precise low shot past Tim Howard for his fourth goal of the campaign. “He is playing really well at the moment and showing the threat he has,” said Hughes.
With Sylvain Distin joining Phil Jagielka on the injured list with a hamstring problem, Stones, an England Under-21 defender, made his first Premier League start in a makeshift central pairing with Antolin Alcaraz and they had to withstand early Stoke pressure, with Peter Crouch nodding wide a Jonathan Walters cross and Assaidi seeing a shot deflect just wide.
Everton came to life on the half-hour when Kevin Mirallas stepped in from the edge of the box and crashed a right-foot shot against the bar. On the stroke of half-time, the Belgian’s luck was out again as he curled a 25-yard free-kick against the post. With Ross Barkley shooting over and Romelu Lukaku struggling to shake off the attention of Stoke’s defenders, Everton manager Roberto Martinez admitted he had begun to fear the worst. “When we hit the crossbar twice you were feeling it was not going to be our day,” he said. “We were not at our best but we showed an incredible reaction.”
Everton, who dropped to fifth, had ended 2013 with more points than in any previous calendar year since 1987, when they last won the top-flight title.
Their Champions League ambitions appear genuine but they struggled initially to test Butland, a half-time replacement for Thomas Sorensen, who has an Achilles problem. Erik Pieters summed up Stoke’s resistance with a superb double block to thwart a Steven Naismith header and Mirallas shot, but Everton’s perseverance paid off with Osman’s “magic feet” – as Martinez called them – leading to Pennant’s rush of blood.
Stoke (4-2-3-1): Sorensen 6 (Butland 46, 6); Cameron 6, Shawcross 7, Wilson 6, Pieters 7; Nzonzi 6, Whelan 7; Walters 6 (Pennant 72), Adam 6 (Palacios 82), Assaidi 8; Crouch 6.
Subs: Muniesa, Jones, Arnautovic, Ireland.
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard 6; Coleman 5, Stones 6, Alcaraz 6, Baines 7; McCarthy 5 (Osman 72), Barry 6; Mirallas 6, Barkley 6, Pienaar 5 (Jelavic 72); Lukaku 5 (Naismith 82).
Subs: Robles (gk), Hibbert, Oviedo, Vellios.
Match rating: 6/10
Star man: Assaidi (Stoke)
Referee: Andre Marriner
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