Stoke City 1-2 Swansea City: Andre Ayew's 95th minute penalty completes controversial comeback for Swans
Andre Ayew celebrates his 95th minute winning penalty at the Bet365 Stadium | (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)

Michael O'Neill was visibly fuming as his side were denied a hard-earned point when referee, David Webb, awarded Swansea City a penalty after the specified added time.

The win for Steve Cooper's side means they have won back-to-back games in the Championship for the first time since early February, at a pivotal point in the season. 

The defeat for Stoke City is their third in a row, and arguably the most unjust. The Potters will be looking to get back to winning ways against rock-bottom Wycombe Wanderers on the weekend.

  • Story of the game

The hosts started the better of the two sides, with some early pressure through a couple of set-pieces that eventually amounted to nothing. However, it only took six minutes for the deadlock to be broken; a rare misplaced pass from Marc Guehi was intercepted by Steven Fletcher who played Nick Powell through on goal with a neat first-time flick. The Potters' top scorer made no mistake, netting his 11th goal of the season to put Stoke ahead inside the opening ten minutes.

Despite taking control over the game in the opening stages, Michael O'Neill's side were not ahead for long. With 18 minutes on the clock, Ryan Manning found himself in space on the left flank following a miscommunication between the Stoke backline that saw Harry Souttar dispossessed.

The two wing-backs combined for Swansea; the Irishman swung a low ball across the face of goal that was volleyed home by Connor Roberts to square the game for Steve Cooper's men. 

The fast-paced tempo of the opening 20 minutes showed no signs of letting up. Just ten minutes later, Stoke midfielder Tommy Smith struck an  audacious effort that rattled Freddie Woodman's left stick. Perhaps a wake up call for the visitors, who saw the majority of the ball for the ensuing remainder of the half.

However, as the opening 45 minutes headed into injury time, a late surge forward from Stoke saw them rewarded with two successive corners. Following a quiet 25 minutes, Woodman was called into action and dived to his right to deny Powell his second goal of the game, and prevent the hosts from going into the break ahead.

HT

Again, Stoke started the half as the brighter of the two sides and should have re-taken the lead in the opening five minutes. Right wing-back, Tommy Smith sent in a perfect delivery for Fletcher at the far post, who struck the woodwork before the rebound was sent flying over by James Chester.

Just past the hour mark, the hosts found themselves in a 3v2 counter-attack situation, looking to make the breakthrough. Jack Clarke was left in acres of space on the left side, but Jacob Brown opted to play the ball out right to Fletcher, who couldn't find the Spurs loanee with his disappointing cross.

Following an end-to-end 20 minutes, it was Swansea who were presented with a golden opportunity to take a late lead; Matt Grimes delivered a sumptuous deep-cross that evaded the whole Stoke backline, but Connor Roberts' second volley was kept out this time by Angus Gunn.

With the game drawing to a close, the fourth official indicated there would be four minutes of stoppage time. However, following the four minutes, Kyle Naughton made a darting run in to the box for the Swans and picked up the ball at speed. Jack Clarke was adjudged to have brought the defender down and David Webb pointed to the spot with no hesitation. 

Andre Ayew stepped up for the visitors and made no mistake, converting from the spot to take all three points back to Wales

  • Takeaways

Swansea's wing-backs are the real deal

Connor Roberts and Ryan Manning provided a masterclass in the wing-back role. The pair combined in brilliant fashion for Swansea's equalising goal and continued to cause problems for the hosts throughout.

The pair took more touches than any of their teammates and their contributions did not go unnoticed, as Connor Roberts won the Sky Bet man of the match award.

Stoke unlucky in defeat

Having struck the woodwork twice over the course of the game, Stoke City will feel hard-done-by against the Swans, who closed the gap to one point on the automatic promotion spots.

Many pundits and fans alike have voiced their opinions on Webb's decision to award Swansea the late penalty, with many feeling the contact was minimal. 

 

It had never been a penalty, but I think enough decisions have gone against us down the seasons and particularly against Stoke, so we’ll happily take that.

GET IN THERE!!!!!!

— Tom Powell (@tom_powell6) March 3, 2021 " rel="nofollow">http://

 

  • Man of the match

Nick Powell scored his side's only goal of the game and was at the heart of everything for Stoke City prior to his late substitution. However, Connor Roberts' superb equalising volley turned the game on it's head in the opening half.

The Welsh international continued to play a pivotal role in Swansea's, albeit arguably unjust, three points; Roberts took more shots on target than anyone else on the pitch and put in a stellar performance for Cooper's side.

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