Bony with first strike for Stoke in win over Swansea

 

Wilfred Bony scored his first goal for Stoke City as his new club registered their third successive Premier League victory against former employers Swansea who are still winless since the opening day of the season.

Bony struck first before Wayne Routledge headed the visitors level in a frenetic first half that saw the hosts hit the post three times.

The volume of Stoke chances eventually told as visiting defender Alfie Mawson turned Ramadan Sobhi’s shot into his own net, and Bony then nodded in a third after Joe Allen’s shot was saved.

Mark Hughes’ side are now up to 12th in the Premier League table while Swansea, despite some initial signs of improvement, remain second from bottom and five points from safety.

It was a galling evening for the visitors, who had the chance to re-sign their former midfielder Allen from Liverpool in the summer.

Instead it is with Stoke he is enjoying the most prolific season of his career, his two assists on this occasion adding to the four goals he had scored in his previous four appearances for the club.

A fifth match unbeaten represents an impressive transformation from Stoke, whose dismal start to the season had left them at the foot of the table after five games.

One thing missing from Stoke’s revival until the encounter was a goal for Bony, so there was a sense of fate to the way the striker on loan from Manchester Cityput the Potters ahead against his former club.

“Wilfried Bony – it was always likely to happen. It was written in the stars tonight and it happens so often. He and Joe Allen have been excellent since they came here,” manager Mark Hughes said.

Another former Swan, midfielder Allen, provided the assist with a half-volley from a half-cleared corner – an example of the visitors’ ragged defending that was symptomatic of a frantic start to the game.

Bob Bradley’s side were overrun by their dominant opponents, for whom Charlie Adam twice hit the post with shots outside the penalty area.

Marko Arnautovic did the same after rounding Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, but the visitors’ narrow escapes merely felt like delaying the inevitable.

Stoke’s pressure was unrelenting and, after substitute Ramadan wriggled past Swansea’s hesitant defenders and forced Mawson into an own goal, it was left to Bony to nod in from close range after more good work from Allen to seal victory and score against Swansea for a second successive season.

Allen’s performance saw him provide two assists in a Premier League game for the first time, while Bony scored for the first time since Boxing Day, having gone 23 games for club and country without a goal.

“Joe Allen is an outstanding footballer. He has that knack of anticipating where the ball is going to land and that is why I have pushed him further forwards,” Hughes said.

Swansea’s slump of nine matches without victory is their worst since their 2011 promotion to the Premier League.

There were hints of improvement in Bradley’s first two games in charge, a 3-2 defeat at Arsenal and a goalless draw at home to Watford.

He will also have been encouraged by his team’s initially spirited response to the torrential Stoke pressure – but Swansea’s defects remain.

They were porous in defence and weak in midfield, where Ki Sung-yueng and Leroy Fer offered precious little resistance against their vibrant opponents.

Lone striker Fernando Llorente led the line willingly enough but he and substitute Borja Baston were starved of service – characteristically for a Swansea team with just nine goals from 10 Premier League games this season.

“We had some good stretches but, overall, we lack confidence and in key moments we were second best. There is no easy solution to getting confidence back. When you are going through a bad stretch you have to have belief,” Bradley said.

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