STOKE CITY produced a white hot display to sink Bournemouth and secure their first Premier League win in five matches.
Giannelli Imbula, Ibrahim Afellay and Joselu bagged the goals as City, wearing an all-white kit for one game only, returned to winning ways with a bang on the south coast.
Record signing Imbula repaid a slice of his £18.3million fee as he fired the Potters into an early lead and Afellay and substitute Joselu gave Mark Hughes’ men breathing space with second half strikes before Matt Ritchie grabbed a consolation effort for the home side.
The victory came at a cost with Marc Muniesa and Glen Johnson picking up injuries but that failed to take the shine off on accomplished away day performance.
Boss Hughes made just one change to his starting line-up with Jon Walters, fit again after a virus, replacing Marko Arnautovic, who didn’t travel after being laid low himself with a similar illness.
The Potters went into the game having not scored in their previous four league outings but that sequence was broken after just nine minutes as Imbula opened his account for the Club.
The French midfielder stroked a sumptuous left-footed volley beyond Artur Boruc’s despairing dive after a right-wing cross from Xherdan Shaqiri had only been partially cleared by Bournemouth.
Walters went close to doubling City’s lead nine minutes later but his half-volley found the side-netting, while Shaqiri tested Boruc with a stinging drive that the Bournemouth ‘keeper could only parry.
The Pole was forced to make another smart save 11 minutes later to deny Walters following an error in judgement by Simon Francis who failed to deal with a long ball forward by Pieters.
City squandered a golden opportunity to extend their lead eight minutes before the break. Ibrahim Afellay’s pin-point pass sent Shaqiri clear but with just Boruc to beat the Swiss international scuffed his shot wide of the target.
Jack Butland was called into action for the first time with 41 minutes on the clock as he was forced to deal with a cross-cum-shot from Andrew Surman that threatened to embarrass him.
And referee Graham Scott waved away vociferous appeals for action against Muniesa after the Spaniard appeared to bring down Benik Afobe on the edge of the City area – a decision vindicated by TV replays.
Muniesa failed to appear for the second half after picking up a knock just seconds before the break, handing Dionatan Teixeira the opportunity to make only his second Premier League appearance.
Bournemouth made a double change at the same stage with Joshua King and Matt Ritchie replacing Dan Gosling and Marc Pugh.
King wasted little time in making an impact as he forced Butland to block after the Potters had failed to clear a free-kick from the right-hand edge of their penalty area.
That raised the spirits of the home support but it was the Potters’ travelling fans who had reason to celebrate in the 52nd minute as Afellay made it 2-0.
The Dutch midfielder provided a sublime finish from the edge of the area after City had countered quickly with Walters down the right-hand side.
The Potters were down to 10 men at the time with Glen Johnson off the field receiving treatment. He was unable to continue and his replacement Joselu had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds when he made it 3-0 in the 54th minute by heading past Boruc from Shaqiri’s pin-point cross.
The goals continued to come thick and fast and Bournemouth were handed a lifeline just two minutes later when Ritchie swept home past Butland.
Junior Stanislas wasted an opportunity to set-up a grandstand finish as he somehow failed to make contact with a King cross from the right with an open goal at his mercy, while Boruc denied Walters in added time as City went in search of a fourth goal.