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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:00 28th December 2015

Arnautovic Nets Late Winner In Seven-Goal Thriller

MARKO ARNAUTOVIC'S last minute penalty earned Stoke City a dramatic 4-3 win over Everton at Goodison Park.

Arnautovic's well placed spot kick snatched all three points for the Potters, who had twice been pegged back during an end-to-end encounter.

The Austrian had already played a part in breaking the deadlock, helping Bojan's pass onto Xherdan Shaqiri to sweep the ball home his first for the Club after sixteen minutes.

Romelu Lukaku restored parity six minutes later when he was allowed too much space to tuck the ball in from twelve yards out, before Shaqiri netted again on the brink of half-time with a sublime finish over the top of Toffees keeper Tim Howard.

Lukaku netted his own brace midway through the second period, chesting down Tom Cleverley’s lofted ball over the top to fire past Jack Butland, for Gerard Deulofeu to then put the hosts into the lead for the first time moments later with a simple close range finish.

Drama continued into the final ten minutes, with substitute Joselu making it three-a-piece with his first for the Club after Howard had failed to deal with a cross from the left.

Arnautovic then sent the travelling supporters into delirium with the late winner from twelve yards out, picking himself up to convert after being brought down in the area by John Stones.

His seventh of the season earned a Mark Hughes’ side a fourth victory on the road as well as back-to-back wins at Goodison Park.

In hindsight, signs of a seven-goal thriller could have been spotted early on when Barkley was allowed the chance to net the games' first as early as ten minutes in.

Thankfully for the Potters, Glenn Whelan was on hand on to block the England international’s attempt from the edge of the box after a neat turn provided him with the space and opportunity to shoot.

Arnautovic was quick to respond at the other end, firing narrowly wide of the far post with Howard beaten having been played in down the inside right channel.

That proved to be a sighter for Stoke with the opening goal coming moments later as Bojan picked the ball up from deep and drove at goal.

A clever low pass into the area by the Spaniard was helped on to the far post area by Arnautovic and Shaqiri tucked the ball home left footed after beating his man to complete an impressive move.

The lead only lasted for a matter of minutes though and when Barkley played the ball inside to an unmarked James McCarthy, he had enough to time to seek out Lukaku with a prodded pass through the backline.

The giant Belgian took a touch before steering it beyond Butland with any questions over whether he was offside answered by Pieters' placement in the subsequent replays.

That equaliser gave both the Everton players and supporters a shot of confidence and it wasn't long after when Barkley was allowed to make his way forward from his own half.

Stoke defenders did well to force him wide but a neat back heel enabled Galloway to continue the move and shoot narrowly wide of the upright.

Mark Hughes' side fought hard to survive that response and slowly began to work their way back into the game.

A trademark run into the penalty area from Arnautovic was picked out by Bojan only for the offside flag to render the subsequent shot at goal meaningless.

But there was no such flag held aloft minutes later, as Shaqiri beat the offside trap to take another Bojan ball into his stride and lob the on-rushing Howard with ease.

The Swiss maestro's technique made the finish look simple but the confidence shown in going for goal highlighted his growing adaptation to the English game.

From there on in, a defence marshalled by skipper Ryan Shawcross had appeared to be resolute and when a shot-shy Arouna Kone stubbed an attempt over the bar it looked to sum up the home side’s attempts at finding their way back into the game once again.

Hughes chose to replace Bojan with Joselu midway through the second half but only seconds after he was restarting the game from the centre-circle following a second Everton equaliser.

Tom Cleverley’s searching ball over the top was chested down by a stumbling Lukaku, who kept his feet well to beat Butland from 10 yards out.

Things then went from bad to worse as Lukaku turned provider, setting Barkley free on the inside left channel to work his way into the box and square for Deulofeu to convert with nineteen minutes on the clock.

City had to showcase their own never-say-die attitude now and any lingering question marks over that capability were answered, and then some, with two goals at the other end of the field in the final throws of the game.

Arnautovic was again heavily involved, providing a cross into the box in which Howard could only flap into Joselu's path.

With a hat-trick under his belt in a recent reserve game the Spaniard’s confidence was sky high and his emphatic finish made the scoreline level once more with ten minutes remaining.

Despite that drama, both sides continued to slug it out for a winner and Stoke got it at the death with a penalty kick from the troublesome Arnautovic.

A driving run into the box was halted by a rash challenge from Stones and after a moment of deliberation by referee Mark Clattenburg, a penalty kick was awarded which the Austrian duly slotted home.

It provided a marvellous way to end both the game as well as the Potters' action as a whole in 2015.

    QUICK FACTS

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