EVERTON (0) vs STOKE CITY (1)
STOKE manager Tony Pulis toasted a perfect week after following up Europa League qualification with a second consecutive Premier League victory at Goodison Park.
A 15th-minute goal from Robert Huth, the defender diverting Dean Whitehead’s shot past Tim Howard from close range, was the decisive moment in a game of few chances.
But neither a lack of entertainment nor an injury to goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen could spoil a satisfactory afternoon for Pulis, who saw his side climb to eighth.
“It has been a great week for the club. To get six points and to qualify for the latter stages of the Europa League is first class,” he said.
“We have had a dip of form, which most clubs do, and we have shown a lot of character and spirit the last week and the result on Thursday against Kiev was a fantastic result for us. This was a real battling performance against a good Everton team.”
Stoke had lost all previous fixtures that followed this season’s Continental away trips, but ended that run yesterday, having reached the last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday evening.
Everton manager David Moyes, meanwhile, criticised referee Lee Mason but admitted his team’s fifth home defeat was not solely attributable to the official.
“I thought the referee had a poor game,” Moyes. “It is not the reason for our loss – far from it because that was down to our inability to make and take [chances]. But there was a lot going on in the box and we got very little of it.”
Defender Johnny Heitinga came closes to equalising in the dying stages but could only make faint contact with a whipped left-wing cross and his glancing header skipped harmlessly wide.
Before the match both sides paid their tributes to former Wales manager Gary Speed, who died last week, with the ex-Blues captain’s father Roger among those present for a minute’s applause.