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Stoke City 1 Crystal Palace 2: Potters relegated after throwing away lead

Stoke City - cropped Stoke City players (source: Getty Images)

Stoke City have been relegated from the Premier League after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Xherdan Shaqiri had injected life into their survival bid with a wonderful first-half free-kick, but they were pegged back in the second period by Roy Hodgson’s resurgent Eagles.

James McArthur followed up his goal in last weekend’s 5-0 thumping of Leicester City with another clinical finish to draw the visitors level at the bet365 Stadium.

That goal took the wind out of Stoke’s sails and their misery was compounded four minutes from time.

Patrick van Aanholt, who also scored against the Foxes, took full advantage of poor defending from Paul Lambert’s side to coolly slot past Jack Butland.

The result means it is 13 games without a win for Stoke – a run that unsurprisingly has resulted in their relegation to the Championship after a 10-season stay in the top flight while Palace made mathematically certain of another Premier League campaign.

For all Stoke’s early enthusiasm, it was the visitors who carved out the first clear sight of goal with Ruben Loftus-Cheek whipping an effort from outside the penalty area narrowly wide of Butland’s left-hand post.

Wilfried Zaha, who had scored four goals in his four league games prior to this, then flashed a shot across the face of goal as Palace continued to look the most likely to break the deadlock in the early stages.

Stoke’s first opening came midway through the first half when Mame Biram Diouf headed well wide after Shaqiri’s teasing cross had found him unmarked 10 yards out.

Yohan Cabaye then lashed a shot over from just outside the area before Shaqiri lit up the bet365 Stadium, whipping a sumptuous free-kick into Wayne Hennessey’s top left-hand corner via a deflection off Loftus-Cheek’s head.

Buoyed by Shaqiri’s moment of magic, Stoke unsurprisingly started the second period in confident fashion.

Failure to add to their lead, however, allowed Palace to creep back into the game with Andros Townsend and Zaha, in particular, causing problems for their backline.

Palace’s increased confidence resulted in a fine leveller after 68 minutes. 

Loftus-Cheek powered forward before playing in the over-lapping McArthur, who showed great composure to roll into Butland’s far corner. 

Stoke were visibly deflated by that goal and their fate was sealed in the 86th minute when Van Aanholt latched onto Ryan Shawcross’ attempted block on Zaha’s pass to slide past the onrushing Butland. 

Any hopes of a late Stoke comeback never materialised as their Premier League stay ended with a whimper.

 

Key Opta stats:

– This is Stoke’s first relegation from any division since the 1997-98 campaign, when they were relegated from the second tier alongside Reading and Manchester City.
– Crystal Palace are mathematically safe from relegation, and are therefore the first top-flight team since Liverpool in the 1899-1900 season to avoid relegation despite losing their first seven matches of the season.
– Since beating Huddersfield in his first Premier League match in charge, the Potters have collected just seven points from 13 games under Paul Lambert (W0 D7 L6).
– Stoke have failed to win any of the four Premier League matches they’ve gone in at half-time ahead under Lambert (D2 L2).
– By contrast, Crystal Palace have won three of their last seven Premier League games in which they’ve gone in at half-time trailing (D1 L3).

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