Stoke give Hughes much-needed win to leave Swansea bottom
Stoke came from behind to send Swansea City to the bottom of the Premier League and add to the pressure on their manager Paul Clement.
Wilfried Bony’s first top-flight goal for more than a year gave the visitors an early lead, but Xherdan Shaqiri and Mame Biram Diouf had the home side in front by the interval.
They should have finished the game off but Diouf headed wide and Shaqiri shot over.
And the hosts needed a fine save from Jack Butland to ultimately seal the points – the England goalkeeper saving an attempted clearance from Ryan Shawcross.
They held on for their first win since 28 October – and first at home since September – to move six points above the bottom three.
While victory brought relief for Potters boss Mark Hughes, Clement’s problems continue – this was Swansea’s 10th league defeat of the season.
The only concern for the hosts will be an injury to defender Bruno Martins Indi, who left the field on a stretcher in the 53rd minute.
Graft does the trick for Stoke
This was an old-fashioned kind of win for the Potters – one based on graft, perseverance and big men at either end.
Peter Crouch contributed to Diouf’s winner with a trademark headed flick-on from Shawcross’ long ball, before Butland ensured they kept the points with his outstanding late save.
But it was the energy of midfielder Joe Allen that inspired the hosts.
After they fell behind so early, the Welshman created the equaliser by pinching the ball from Leory Fer.
And he never stopped. Allen covered 12.4 km – more than any Swansea player – and made more sprints (63) than any other player.
He won the ball back for his side eight times, and also made the most tackles (three) and interceptions (three) for the hosts.
Swansea lose their ‘cup final’
Clement had described this game as a “cup final” – presumably in an attempt to focus the minds of his players on just how bad their plight is becoming.
For 35 minutes it seemed as though his words had had the desired effect.
Bony discovered how to score again, and the visitors looked bright, Martin Olsson raiding effectively down the left and Tammy Abraham making some clever runs.
Breaking a seven-hour run without a goal appeared to have revived the visitors’ belief – but two goals in four minutes by Stoke deflated them.
They had more possession in the second half (64.3%) and overall (56.2%) than Stoke, but could not capitalise.
At 2-1, Abraham worked his way into space and played a ball across Stoke’s area that nobody in white attacked. Bony’s only shot on target was his goal.
If they cannot find more cutting edge, Swansea will continue to lose games like this – when there is otherwise little between the teams.