Stoke City will rue the defensive lapses that allowed Swansea City to travel back to Wales with a point that for over an hour of the match seemed unlikely. Having asserted a two goal lead early in the second half, Stoke were pegged back by goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alberto Paloschi.
An Injury to Jack Butland during the international break meant that Mark Hughes brought in young Danish goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard for his Premier League debut. Xherdan Shaqiri was also ruled out through injury which meant that Bojan started and Ibrahim Afellay played on the right hand side. Francesco Guidolin made three changes for the Swans as Kyle Naughton, Leon Britton and Wayne Routledge came into the starting line-up.
On a rare sunny day in Staffordshire, Stoke were looking to secure back to back wins following their impressive win away at Watford last time out. Swansea were aiming to gain three points that would help them to consolidate their place in the Premier League having been in danger of being dragged into the relegation dogfight.
Afellay rises highest to score
All appeared to be going to plan for the Potters when in the 14th minute Marko Arnautovic’s dinked cross to the far post allowed Ibrahim Afellay to head in and score his second Premier League goal this season. The Dutch international couldn’t miss and will be thanking the Austrian playmaker for a perfect 30th birthday present.
In the first half Swansea lacked any sort impetus going forward. Gomis appeared to be a shadow of the striker who terrorised defences in the early part of the season and has gone 500 minutes without a goal. In addition to this, the Swansea midfield were second to loose balls and this allowed Stoke to maintain both territory and intensity going forward.
Bojan's magic returns
After half time Stoke carried on where they left off and it wasn’t long until they doubled their lead. Bojan, who looked back to his best since coming back from injury and had caused problems to Swansea all afternoon, received the ball and ran at the Swans’ back four. There were runners to his right, however, Bojan didn’t release and instead ran into the penalty box where he hit a left footed shot across Fabianski. The Polish goalkeeper got a strong hand to the save, but could only watch as the ball squirmed into the corner of the net.
At two-nil up, Stoke had further chances to increase their lead. Both Arnautovic and Joselu whipped low crosses across the six yard box, but nobody was on hand for the Potters to tap in the ball and give them an unassailable three-nil lead.
Swans hit back
As it was, the Swans came more and more into the game. This was in part down to the addition of Montero who was extremely impressive down the left hand side. His injection of pace gave Swansea an outlet as he drove at the Stoke back four time and time again. In turn, this meant that the Potters began to sit deeper and deeper, inviting Swansea pressure. It was no surprise that Sigurdsson scored having been passed the ball by Routledge who had dispossessed Erik Pieters on the half way line. His quick turn and shot wrong footed Haugaard, and provided the goal that Swansea needed to get back into the game.
This goal prompted an onslaught by Swansea as wave after wave of attacks came down the left flank through the increasingly important Montero. After more sustained pressure, the ball was stroked around the edge of Stoke's box and the hosts failed to clear it. The ball was eventually played into Alberto Paloschi whose deflected shot left Haugaard with no chance of saving it. Having earned a point out of nothing, it was Swansea who looked like grabbing all three points, but couldn’t quite find the winning goal.
Having been so poor for over an hour of play, Swansea had rescued a point from a desperate situation and headed home the happier of the two sides. As the sun began to drop beyond the horizon at the final whistle, it seemed as though Stoke’s hopes of qualifying for the Europa League were setting with it.