Everton 0-1 Stoke

By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
German defender Robert Huth struck after 15 minutes of the match
German defender Huth struck after 15 minutes of the match

Robert Huth's first-half strike was enough to give Stoke victory against Everton, their first win at Goodison Park since 1981.

The German defender struck early in the opening period when he diverted Dean Whitehead's low volley past Tim Howard from close range.

Stoke created few other chances but came close to doubling their lead when Peter Crouch headed two yards wide.

Everton's best chance fell to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, who fired horribly wide.

A good week for Stoke - Pulis

That strike was laughable on a rainy afternoon at Goodison Park where there few efforts on target and where the defences were on top.

The home side's attack was particularly disappointing and bereft of ideas with Stoke never needing to make more than scrambled clearances or well-time blocks.

Everton were impotent in the middle and up front, with midfielder Tim Cahill, the reliable provider of goals in previous seasons, unable to penetrate the backline with his surging runs, while Russian Bilyaletdinov was substituted in the second half after another ineffective display.

Apart from Bilyaletdinov's wild first-half effort, the closest Everton came to scoring was when Jack Rodwell saw his goalbound shot blocked by Andy Wilkinson and when Leighton Baines's ball across the six-yard area eluded a vital touch.

Stoke fared little better but at least managed to score.

The goal came early in the match when Matthew Etherington's corner was headed out to Whitehead and his snap-volley was turned in by Huth.

Had the German not had the final touch then American stopper Howard would have probably saved the shot.

Moments later, defender Ryan Shotton was fractions away from heading in a second for Tony Pulis's men, before striker Crouch nodded Etherington's free-kick two yards wide.

Everton struggled against Stoke - Moyes

The only disappointment for Stoke were the injuries to defender Jonathan Woodgate and keeper Thomas Sorensen.

Woodgate limped off in the second half and was followed into the treatment room by Dane Sorensen who appeared to suffer from concussion after he collided with Cahill.

Before the match, Everton paid tribute to former player and fan Gary Speed who died last Sunday.

The Welsh anthem was played and was followed by a minute's applause during which Speed's father Roger and some of his former Goodison team-mates were greeted on the pitch.

Everton manager David Moyes:

"I thought the referee had a poor game.

"It is not the reason for our loss - far from it because that was down to our inability to make and take chances.

"But there was a lot going on in the box and we got very little of it.

"We hadn't done an awful lot wrong and we found ourselves a goal down.

"I don't think we deserved to be behind in the game but we had to go chasing it.

"What wins games is goals and they got the goal and we didn't."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis:

"This was a real battling performance against a good Everton team.

"It has been a great week for the club. To get six points and to qualify for the latter stages of the Europa League is first class.

"We have had a dip of form, which most clubs do, and we have shown a lot of character and spirit the last week and the result on Thursday against Kiev was a fantastic result for us."

Live text commentaryexternal-link