Stoke City came from a goal down to claim all three points and send Swansea City to the bottom of the table.
Wilfried Bony opened the scoring just three minutes into his return to the bet365 Stadium, volleying home past Jack Butland after Martin Olsson’s lofted cross.
Xherdan Shaqiri levelled the scoreline after a mistake by Leroy Fer in possession allowed former Swansea hero Joe Allen to find the Swiss international, who clinically fired past Lukasz Fabianski.
Mame Biram Diouf then gave Stoke a much needed goal before half time as the home side capitalised on gaining momentum, as the Senegalese forward pounced on a long ball before firing in the top corner.
Surprise start for Swans
Stoke manager Mark Hughes previously hinted he would start with a 4-4-2, and he did so against a Swansea side that has not had problems defending this season.
However just three minutes into the game, former Stoke loanee Bony volleyed past Butland from Olsson’s cross.
His last club goal came in the very same fixture last season, but he scored twice for Stoke against Swansea on Halloween.
After not scoring a single goal and only having four shots on target in November, Swansea started December with a bang.
Swansea had been fairly ridiculed for their poor offensive displays this season, but started at the bet365 Stadium with full of energy and the goal would have given Paul Clement a huge relief.
The away side had been the better team in the opening stages, and had visibly frustrated the Potters faithful as chants of Delilah had turned to audible groans.
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However it was Clement who then became audibly frustrated, as Fer gave possession away in Swansea’s defensive third before Allen found Shaqiri to finish past Fabianski.
Swansea had been the better team up until the goal in the 36th minute, and will be disappointed that their hard work came undone by an individual error.
It went from bad to worse for Swansea just four minutes later, as Diouf gave Stoke the lead after being found by Crouch’s flick on.
Neither Kyle Naughton or the two centre-backs could get close enough to the forward who took his chance as the momentum swung in the Potters’ direction.
The belief and optimism surrounding Swansea’s attack had quickly disappeared before the half time whistle blew, and Clement would have needed a big teamtalk to turn this result around.
Slow start to second half
Any momentum Clement would have hoped to give his side at half time was quickly lost as the second half started with Bruno Martins Indi suffering a potentially serious injury, and had to be taken off on the stretcher after spending several minutes down.
Fer tried to correct his earlier mistake by bursting through the midfield after some neat play but only an intervention by Ryan Shawcross on his 300th Premier League game for Stoke denied the Dutchman the chance to equalise.
Hughes smartly changed his defensive system in the second half, and moved to a diamond when out of possession to match their opposition.
As most of Swansea’s attacks came down the right, Diouf, Choupo-Moting and Fletcher were all able to cover those danger areas in the new defensive shape.
Stoke could have killed the game off as Diouf met Shaqiri’s cross on the counter, but nodded wide from a few yards out and took the ball off of its path to Crouch at the back post.
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Swans aim for an equaliser
Ki Sung-Yeung then had his shot from distance parried into the path of Sam Clucas, but he was too wide to get a shot away as Swansea tried to amp up the pressure.
Tammy Abraham dribbled past Kurt Zouma before putting the ball on a plate for Clucas but the midfielder couldn’t connect with the cross.
Butland then came to Stoke’s rescue as Shawcross nearly turned the ball into his own net from Tom Carroll’s cross, but a fingertip save kept the Potters in the lead.
Shaqiri could have sealed the win with a few minutes remaining, but his shot flew over the bar after impressive work by substitute Ramadan Sobhi as the end to the second half fizzled out.
Swansea’s performances have improved recently, and even scored a goal today but Clement will be facing questions about his future at the club.
There isn’t a great deal he can do about the lack of quality in attacking areas at the club, but as the cliché goes: Football is a results business.
Crystal Palace’s draw today moves them above Swansea who now sit 20th, and face West Brom at home next.