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17:30 6th February 2016

City Slump To Everton Defeat On Miserable Afternoon In The Potteries

GIANNELLI IMBULA turned in an impressive display on his Stoke City debut but he was unable to do anything about Everton leaving the Britannia Stadium with a 3-0 win.

The Club-record signing was handed his full debut in place of Bojan, whilst Mame Diouf and Xherdan Shaqiri came in for Peter Crouch and Jon Walters in three changes from the aide that were beaten at Manchester United in midweek.

But those changes proved to be futile as Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring with a penalty, before Seamus Coleman and Aaron Lennon both added before the break to put the game out of sight.

City improved in the second half and probably deserved a goal for their late efforts, but it wasn't to be as they now head to Bournemouth next week in search of a win before a fortnight's break.

They had looked bright in the opening stages, with Shaqiri and Diouf linking up, although the striker was unable to get on the end of a cross.

Lukaku has been a thorn in the Potters' side, with three career goals against Stoke, and he made that four after Jack Butland brought down Tom Cleverley in the box.

The 'keeper escaped censure for the foul with Everton fans at the other end of the ground calling for a red card, but he could only watch as Lukaku rolled the ball down the middle to open the scoring after 11 minutes.

The biting wind and rain swirled around the Brit and the conditions made it difficult for either team to create anything clear cut, and it was from a set-piece that Coleman doubled the advantage on 28 minutes, nodding a glancing header past Butland at the near post.

The balance of play didn't merit a two-goal difference between the sides, but City were being punished for every mistake they made. That trend continued when Lennon pounced upon Philipp Wollscheid’s misplaced pass, ran through and calmly finished to put the visitors well clear with time to spare before half-time.

Arnautovic and Diouf both had sights of goal in stoppage time, but neither troubled Joel Robles as the Potters went in at the break with a mountain to climb.

After the break the Potters remained on the front foot as they continue with their aim to reduce to deficit.

Shaqiri turned in midfield and found space to shoot, but his shot wasn't able to find the target. Ibrahim Afellay was played in a minute later, but a deflection took the sting out of the shot and the 'keeper gathered.

Everton broke shortly after and their fans thought they had a fourth when Ross Barkley fired past Butland, but he could only find the side netting.

The England goalkeeper had to be sharp to prevent Everton extending their lead through the dangerous-looking Lukaku, whose point-blank header was tipped on to the bar by Butland.

Mark Hughes made a double change just after the hour, with Stephen Ireland replacing Afellay, whilst Shaqiri was withdrawn for Peter Odemwingie.

Butland denied Lukaku again with his foot shortly afterwards, before the Belgian teed up James McCarthy who rasped his effort just wide.

The game was becoming increasingly open, and Johnston stung Robles' palms with a shot the 'keeper couldn't hold on to.

Ireland found Imbula in the box, but the Everton defence recovered to block the shot for a corner to deny the French midfielder a debut goal. Joselu came on for Marko Arnautovic in City’s final change with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Arouna Kone was brought on for Lukaku, and he was almost on the scoresheet himself within minutes, but Butland denied him when one-on-one in another fine save, whilst Funes Mori headed the resulting corner wide.

City were catching Everton short at the back but were unable to take advantage as Ireland fired Joselu's low cross well over the bar, whilst Diouf's injury time header was well saved just before the full-time whistle went, consigning City to a third straight Premier League defeat.


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