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17:00 15th October 2016

REPORT: Stoke City 2-0 Sunderland

JOE ALLEN'S hot-streak continued at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon as the impressive Welshman helped the Potters to their first Premier League victory of the season. 

The summer signing from Liverpool netted crucial strikes in each of the side's last two top-flight outings with West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United, and was at it again against the Black Cats with a clinically taken first-half brace.

Neither team had managed to break their Premier League duck ahead of kick-off, with Mark Hughes' men one point and one place better off than their opponents, who propped up the league table having drawn just two of their opening seven fixtures.

On the back of a hugely pivotal 1-1 draw with Manchester United prior to the international break, it was vitally important for the hosts to start this game brightly, and they did just that with Allen making his first telling contribution of the afternoon just eight minutes in.

The industrious midfielder, who came through a late fitness test after missing Wales' 1-1 draw with Georgia in the week, stole a march on John O'Shea and planted a firm header past Jordan Pickford after Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic had linked up to devastating effect on the left.

The hosts were buoyant, the visitors were struggling, and only a Jermain Defoe strike which flew over Lee Grant's crossbar offered the travelling 2,800 or so Sunderland supporters a rare moment of hope in what was a relatively one sided encounter.

The importance of scoring the first goal in the top-flight is often highlighted by Hughes, and his words were proven to be correct as Moyes' outfit were forced to press forward and tear up their original game plan which was to sit deep in frustrate their opponents.

That resulted in gaps forming at the back, allowing the likes of Shaqiri and Arnautovic the time and space needed to weave their magic and turn the screw into Moyes' beleaguered troops.

United States international Geoff Cameron should have been on the scoreline when some intelligent play from Wilfried Bony freed him through on goal, just moments after the Ivory Coast striker had whipped an effort inches wide of the post.

A second goal of the afternoon always looked like going the home side's way, and that was exactly what happened when Allen showed tremendous improvisation to hit a half volley into the bottom corner from 18-yards after Sunderland had only half dealt with Shaqiri's corner.

The work, to a large extent, was well done prior to the break, but there were plenty of chances to have added to the tally in the second 45 minutes with Arnautovic and Shaqiri both going agonisingly close.

Austrian maverick Arnautovic did have the ball in the net midway through the half when he clipped home Erik Pieters' drive into the box from close range, only for the linesman to flag for offside.

Bony and Allen also forced Pickford into action as the match drew towards its climax, before substitute Charlie Adam rattled the woodwork with a thumping effort from 25-yards.


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