- Joe Allen nets for a second successive weekend as Potters claim for Old Trafford Premier League point.
- Substitute Anthony Martial opened the scoring in the 69th minute before Allen levelled 13 minutes later.
- Paul Pogba rattled the woodwork in stoppage time as the visitors hold on for a deserved share of the spoils.
JOE ALLEN’S second goal in as many matches earned Stoke City their first point at Old Trafford in the Premier League.
The Welsh international, who netted his first in Stoke colours against West Bromwich Albion eight days earlier, was on hand to slam home from close range after Jonathan Walters’ effort had clipped the underside of the bar.
Jose Mourinho’s side looked to have sealed all three points for themselves when substitute Anthony Martial whipped home a superb effort from the corner of the penalty area, after the ball was inadvertently played into his path by the unfortunate Geoff Cameron.
Both sides had opportunities to break the deadlock well before Martial’s 69th minute strike, with Lee Grant producing several outstanding saves to keep the scoreline level.
The on-loan Derby County stopper was called into action as early as the second minute to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic from close range, before he produced an even more eye-catching save to thwart Jesse Lingaard from point-blank range.
However, the home side were far from having it their own way as Mark Hughes’ side played with pride, passion and quality as they looked to find an avenue through United’s backline.
Marko Arnautovic almost picked Wilfried Bony out inside the 6-yard box with a trademark delivery from the left, whilst on the opposite flank Allen picked out the industrious Cameron, who unfortunately shot tamely at David De Gea.
United were arguably edging the possession stats and were, despite Stoke’s impressive showing, were creating the more frequent opportunities, although on more than one occasions their finishing let them down.
The longer the game went on, the more the visitors were gaining the upper hand - especially with the tiresome trio of Glenn Whelan, Allen and Cameron hassling and harrying the United players in all four corners of the pitch.
The back four looked imperious, and all of a sudden had a stubbornness and determination to chalk up their first clean-sheet of the campaign at the most unlikely of places.
That was however until Jose Mourinho played his trump card, introducing Martial and Wayne Rooney in a double swap, with the former instantly repaying his manager’s faith by seemingly sinking the winner.
It was a catastrophic blow to Hughes, his players and vocal travelling supporters, but it wasn’t long until the Welshman made a couple of changes of his own to try and wrestle the momentum back in his side’s favour.
Anything Mourinho can do, Hughes can do too, and his decision to introduce Walters and Peter Crouch from the bench had a telling influence on the outcome of the game as the pair added a fresh dimension to what had already been a polished Potters performance.
With just eight minutes remaining, Glen Johnson’s tenacity and drive on the right, allowed him to nick the ball, burst past Ander Herrera and let rip a powerful effort that De Gea failed to adequately deal with, allowing Walters to hit the rebound on the bar before Allen, who probably should have scored from a similar position 15 minutes earlier, rushed in and hammered home.
Cue the wild celebrations in amongst the travelling army of supporters, whose dreams of seeing their side claim a famous first point in these parts during the Premier League ear were edging nearer to becoming a reality.
Still, as the side have found out so many times on the road, the match isn’t over until the final whistle blows, and the hosts very nearly drove a dagger into their hearts deep into stoppage time when Paul Pogba thumped a header onto the woodwork.
That proved to be the last serious action of an entertaining, and fruitful, affair that may well prove to be the turning point in the Potters campaign.
PROVING A POINT
Not since 1980 have the Potters secured a point on the road at Old Trafford…
That was until Sunday however, when Joe Allen’s late goal earned his side a crucial, and deserved, share of the spoils.
Thirteen straight defeats, 14 if you add in a League Cup encounter, but that record was firmly put to bed as Mark Hughes’ side produced their most polished display of the season.
Of course, you need to ride your luck in matches like this, and the side certainly did that, but nobody could begrudge them the point they earned having caused United numerous problems throughout.
The result means that Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium remains the only current top-flight stadium that the Club have played at without chalking up a Premier League point at.
ALLEN ON THE MARK … AGAIN
Joe Allen netted in the Premier League for a second successive weekend for only the second time in his career.
The Wales international, who arrived at the bet365 Stadium from Liverpool for £13M in the summer thumped home from close range to earn his side a deserved point at Old Trafford.
That effort followed his maiden goal for the Club during the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion eight days earlier.
Not since the 2011/12 campaign has the midfielder achieved that feat, with, ironically, the industrious midfielder netting in successive fixtures against Wolves and Bolton in October.
In fact it is only the third time he has scored in straight matches of any kind in his career, with the 26-year-old most recently bagging twice is as many matches for Liverpool last term, although one of those was in the FA Cup.
His eyes will firmly be set on hitting a hat-trick when the Potters play host to Sunderland following the international break.