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17:12 4th December 2011

Huth Lifts City To Eighth Place

ROBERT HUTH chose the perfect moment to grab his first goal of the season to end Stoke City's series of Europa League hangovers . . . and clinch them their first triumph at Goodison Park for more than 30 years.

The German international was on hand to flick home a Dean Whitehead shot in the 15th minute and then proved to be a defensive rock as City withstood all that Everton could throw at them over the remainder of the game.

City created excellent opportunities to go further ahead in the first half as the two Ryans - Shotton and Shawcross - went close with headers as they posed particular problems for David Moyes' side from set-pieces.

But they had to defend for long periods after the break to claim their first win at Goodison Park since April 1981 and the three points from a second successive Premier League win, lifts them to eighth place in the table.

Even more satisfying was the fact that it ended a run a poor results which followed Europa League ties this season.

Pulis made no fewer than nine changes to the side that secured City's place in the Knockout Stages of the Europa League, Huth and Shotton being the only survivors from the Dynamo Kiev match which marked that outstanding achievement.

The build-up to the kick-off was a highly-emotional one, which was hardly surprising given that Gary Speed was a former Everton player.

As well as the playing of the Welsh national anthem, there was a minute's applause where the players were joined by Speed's father in the centre circle and several team-mates of his during his spell at Goodison Park.

The early stages saw City having to soak pressure from the home side, but they has relatively little difficulty with Shawcross and Huth commanding in the centre.

However, the first real threat came when Coleman found the space on the right to send over a cross which skidded off the head of Huth and fell to Bilyetdinov at the far post, but despite having plenty of space, he mishit his shot across the face of goal.

As the Potters weathered that early storm, they began to create some promising moments themselves and took the lead in the 15th minute.

Shotton seized upon an error to burst forward and forced a corner on the right hand side which Etherington whipped into the six yard box.

Although Everton were able to half clear the initial threat, Whitehead volleyed the ball back in Huth turned it into the roof of the net from close range.

The home side immediately had an opportunity to hit back when they were awarded a free kick just outside the box, but although Baines posed a considerable threat from that position, his curling effort glanced off the wall and flew to safety.

There was more concern for the Potters when Baines, bursting forward on the overlap, delivered another dangerous cross and it took some desperate defending to ensure that the opportunity didn't lead to an Everton equaliser in that instance.

Some neat link-up work between Walters and Crouch pave the way for Shotton to break forward, but he chose to cross too early before the two frontmen could take up positions in the box and Howard had little trouble in gathering the ball.

As the half moved into its closing stages, City had a glorious opportunity to extend their lead and once it again it came from a corner kick.

Whelan was the provider from the left hand side and when Walters flicked it on at the near post, Shotton planted his header past the far post.

Shortly before the break, another set-piece caused Everton more problems as Crouch won a free kick on the right and Etherington's ball into the box was glanced goalbound by Shawcross, but Howard got the faintest of touches to turn it over.

City were well worth their lead at half time and they probably should have had at least a two-goal cushion, something which they probably regretted as Everton raised their game at the start of the second half to force them onto the back foot.

Everton failed to make the most of a couple of free kicks, one from either side, of the pitch, but it was a warning sign of what was likely to come.

Pulis made his first change of the afternoon eight minutes after the break with Wilkinson being brought on to replace Woodgate at right back.

Wilkinson was immediately in the thick of the action when Osman delivered a menacing ball into the box and his presence ensured that Cahill headed wide.

There was then a mix-up when a long ball forward was left by Huth and Sorensen managed to push the ball away before being caught by Cahill.

The big Dane continued on after lengthy treatment, but in Everton's next attack, it was clear he was struggling with concussion and had to be taken off on a stretcher, resulting in Begovic taking his place in goal for the remaining 20 minutes.

There was some respite for the Potters when they were awarded a free kick on the right for a foul on Whitehead and Whelan's long ball into the box was aimed at Crouch, but Fellaini managed to get his head to it first to turn it away for a corner.

Back came Everton with ten minutes remaining and both Baines and then substitute Rodwell had shots blocked as City defended bravely.

The long delays for treatment to Sorensen meant that there were seven minutes of injury time and that lifted a frustrated home crowd.

City threw on Upson in place of Etherington to bolster their defensive resources, but although Everton had more pressure they could not find a way through a solid rearguard action that limited the home side just a few chances.

    Data provided by Press Association


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955