CHARLIE ADAM’S sensational second half strike earned the Potters a first ever Premier League triumph against reigning Champions Manchester United on Saturday afternoon.
The Scotland international hammered a home a ferocious 25-yard effort to claim the scalp of David Moyes’ resurgent side after a pulsating encounter at the Britannia Stadium.
Adam had opened the scoring in far more fortuitous circumstances during an entertaining opening half before Robin Van Persie levelled for the visitors just minutes after the interval.
The home side pressed forward and continued to look the more likely of the two sides to win the game – and the rewards were duly theirs when the former Liverpool man sublimely struck gold on the hour mark.
Chances came to seal the victory through Marko Arnautovic and Oussama Assaidi, but it was Asmir Begovic who made the biggest telling factor on the result late on with a stunning save to deny Wayne Rooney in stoppage time.
Mark Hughes made two changes to his starting eleven ahead of kick-off as well as handing a home debut to Nigerian international Peter Odemwingie.
The former Cardiff man lined up on the right hand side of midfield, whilst the recalled Arnautovic started on the left and Jon Walters partnered Peter Crouch up front in a new-look 4-4-2 formation.
The rest of the side was as you were at Sunderland three days earlier with Begovic featuring at the Britannia Stadium for the first time this year following his injury lay-off.
Moyes showcased his latest acquisition Juan Mata for the second time this week, lining him up alongside both Rooney and Van Persie in a fearsome triple-pronged attack.
The home side looked the more settled of the sides during the early exchanges with Austrian ace Arnautovic in-particular looking lively in the final third.
United were clearly struggling to get a grip of the game and the typically windy conditions in these parts, with Hughes’ side able to exert themselves upon the hosts frequently.
Walters did well on the right to flight a perfect ball across to Crouch, only for the England man to mistime his spot, whilst moments later Arnautovic’s corner was headed wide of goal by Odemwingie.
At the other end United’s first real surge forward very nearly culminated in the deadlock being broke, although thankfully for Stoke, Rooney’s volley wasn’t quite as impressive as Patrice Evra’s fizzed ball across to him.
Moyes was handed a blow midway through the half when Jonny Evans limped off with an injury, whilst his cause was unaided even further later in the half when Phil Jones was stretchered off with a serious head injury.
Prior to that incident though, the Scotsman’s troops edged themselves into the game with Van Persie and Rooney starting to find their rhythm and pose serious questions to the hosts rear-guard.
Both Shawcross and Cameron made crucial interventions as United looked to turn the screw in their bid for the opening goal, but they were left shell-shocked as the home side eventually found that initial breakthrough prior to the break.
Walters was manhandled by Chris Smalling some 30-yards out, and referee Neil Swarbrick correctly awarded the free-kick.
Scotland international Adam stepped up, hammered a thunderous effort towards goal, the ball deflected off Carrick and left David De Gea wrong-footed, before nestling in the bottom corner of the net.
The delirious supporters inside the stadium had barely returned to their seats by the time that Begovic was forced into a smart save down to his right, with Tom Cleverley turning in anticipation of celebrating a quick-fire leveller.
The start of the second half heralded an immediate turn in fortunes though, as the linesman failed to spot a clear offside, before Mata flicked the ball through to Van Persie, who neatly fired the ball beyond the Bosnian.
As was the case at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture last year, the Red Devils weren’t level for long as just five minutes later Adam delivered what would ultimately be the killer blow to United’s chances of victory, and arguably more crushing to their title credentials.
Hughes lost the impressive Walters to injury as the half progressed, but the introduction of Assaidi from the bench added flair and pace to the home side who looked determined to add to their tally of goals.
Arnautovic was unlucky to curl an effort wide of goal following neat interchange with Glenn Whelan, whilst Assaidi forced De Gea into a top drawer side with a thumping volley from 15-yards after the visitors had failed to clear their lines.
Moyes threw one last roll of the dice in a bid to salvage something from the game with the introduction of Javier Hernandez from the bench twenty minutes from time.
Mata and Cleverley both wasted half-opportunities at the other end as United threw everything forward in search of a goal that would have kept alive their faint title hopes alive.
But it was Stoke who continued in the ascendency, buoyed by the ferocious supporters dreaming of a first league win over United since Boxing Day, 1984.
The seven minutes of added time unquestionably felt like an hour to the tense Stoke fans inside the stadium, and as wave after wave of attacks from the visitors threatened the breach of the Potters goal – it was hard not to expect an undeserved leveller at some stage.
However, thanks to the late brilliance of Begovic and incredible defending from Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson and Pieters, the home side held firm and secured a potentially season turning three points to elevate themselves out of the bottom three and up into eleventh place.