Stoke end losing run with comfortable win at Bournemouth
Stoke put their three-game Premier League losing streak to an end with a confident 3-1 win over a weak Bournemouth side at the Vitality Stadium.
A first-half goal from Giannelli Imbula and second-half strikes from Ibrahim Afellay and Joselu were enough to secure the visitors all three points and move them up to ninth in the league table.
Bournemouth struggled to compete in the game but Matt Ritchie's consolation goal just before the hour mark led to an exciting finish to the game as the Cherries pushed on to try and achieve a much-needed draw.
Stoke had lost 3-0 to Leicester, Manchester United and Everton in succession but the home side had a first half to forget and it took Stoke just nine minutes to break through the Cherries' defence.
Simon Francis' block fell straight to Imbula and the midfielder hit the ball on the volley straight into the bottom corner of the net, giving Artur Boruc no chance.
Bournemouth's defence seemed to lose confidence after the goal and Jonathan Walters could have put the away side 2-0 up before half-time but the ball found the side netting, much to the disappointment of the travelling fans.
Howe's men started the second half like a different side but despite a few early chances it was Stoke who found the back of the net again.
With only 10 men on the pitch due to an injury to Glen Johnson, Walters took on Harry Arter down the right before passing a beautifully timed ball to the oncoming Afellay, who finished first time.
Stoke striker Joselu was brought on to replace Johnson during the celebrations and had only been on the pitch a few minutes before his head met Xherdan Shaqiri's cross to put Stoke 3-0 up.
Bournemouth were not going to give up easily and in the 57th minute Ritchie, one of two half-time substitutes, swept home a superb first-time left-foot effort from the edge of the box.
It spurred the home side on and they began to trouble the Stoke defence. Ritchie and Junior Stanislas came close to adding a second for Bournemouth but the Potters' defence managed to stop any balls which made their way into the area.
There was a tense end to the game as Bournemouth desperately tried to get back into it and referee Graham Scott handed out a number of yellow cards to both sides.
Stoke successfully handled the added pressure to secure all three points as the result sees Bournemouth slip to just four points above the relegation zone.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Good win for Stoke against 'The Strawberries' as I thought B'mouth's nickname was! (My clue was 'red fruit' - that was all I could think of)"
British middle distance runner Emma Jackson @emmajacko88
Artur Boruc - 5
Simon Francis - 5
Steve Cook - 5
Dan Gosling - 5
Andrew Surman - 5
Marc Pugh - 5
Harry Arter - 5
Charlie Daniels - 6
Adam Smith - 6
Junior Stanislas - 6
Benik Afobe - 5
Juan Iturbe - 6
Joshua King - 6
Matt Ritchie - 7
Jack Butland - 6
Erik Pieters - 6
Marc Muniesa - 6
Glenn Whelan - 6
Glen Johnson - 6
Ibrahim Afellay - 7
Mame Biram Diouf - 5
Jonathan Walters - 6
Giannelli Imbula - 7
Xherdan Shaqiri - 6
Philipp Wollscheid - 5
Stephen Ireland - 5
Joselu - 6
Giannelli Imbula - The 23-year-old midfielder did not stop running and was not afraid to put a tackle in. His first-half goal sent Bournemouth's defence to pieces which they did not fully recover from.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Eddie Howe made a double substitution at half-time and it proved to be what Bournemouth needed to compete in the game. The first half was very one-sided but the introduction of Matt Ritchie provided the Cherries with a different style of attack. Ritchie found the back of the net just before the hour mark and whilst Bournemouth still lost the game his presence on the pitch put a fight into the home side making it a much more even game.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Glen Johnson was forced off the pitch after falling awkwardly in the area and Mark Hughes chose to bring striker Joselu on to replace him. It turned out to be a great substitution as only a matter of minutes later Joselu's head found the ball in the area to put the Potters 3-0 up.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Bournemouth fans were not happy as the first half was drawing to a close Stoke's Marc Muniesa went down with a hamstring injury but the time it took for the Potters' physio team to make it on to help him upset an already frustrated set of Cherries' fans. A number of boos rang out as the referee went down the tunnel at half-time and at the full-time whistle.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Bournemouth v Everton (FA Cup, Saturday 20 February).
Stoke v Aston Villa (Premier League, Saturday 27 February).