Premier League - Huth gives Stoke last-gasp win

Eurosport - Mon, 13 Sep 21:56:00 2010

Robert Huth pounced to clinch a 2-1 victory for Stoke in the final minute against Aston Villa in their Premier League clash at the Britannia Stadium.

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Stoke 2 Aston Villa 1

Stoke recorded their first points of the campaign after the imposing defender stabbed home the winner in the third and final minute of stoppage-time to crush Villa, who had taken the lead in the 35th minute.

Stewart Downing put the visitors in front with a precise diving header before the Potters' record signing Kenwyne Jones opened his account for the club with an 81st minute equaliser to set up an enthralling finish.

Neither manager was present at the ground at kick-off - Gerard Houllier is still under contract with the French FA while Pulis was absent for the first half following the death of his mother. But the Welshman made an unexpected arrival at half-time and witnessed a stirring comeback.

Jones and Marc Wilson were handed home debuts for the hosts while Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jermaine Pennant were confined to the bench; the imposing forward was slipped through on goal by Wilson in the 11th minute only for Brad Friedel to save superbly.

Play lurched from one end to the other with Stoke looking to break. It was Villa who found the breakthrough in the 35th minute: a stunning delivery from Gabriel Agbonlahor out on the right found Downing, who directed a precise diving header into the far corner of the net.

Kevin MacDonald and Dave Kemp were the men patrolling the technical areas in the absence of their superiors, and the latter was left apoplectic with rage two minutes later when Rory Delap hurled a throw in into the box and James Collins blocked the ball with his hand - referee Lee Probert was seemingly oblivious to the infringement.

Villa should have doubled their lead in the 41st minute as Agbonlahor produced another stupendous delivery, this time from the left wing, to pick out Ashley Young with a pinpoint cross, but the forward inexplicably headed wide as he ghosted in at the back post.

The final few minutes of the first half saw a barrage of pressure from the visitors, with wave after wave of attacks, and Thomas Sorensen had to parry wide close-range efforts from Collins and Downing.

Within seconds of the second half getting underway, a huge roar went up around the Britannia as Pulis jogged down the touchline - an entrance which promptly spurred on his side.

Jones caused havoc in the Villa box yet again in the 51st minute as he soared above Richard Dunne to meet Matthew Etherington's corner, but Friedel was on hand to parry the ball to safety as the American made another reflex save to keep the hosts at bay.

Ricardo Fuller replaced the ineffectual former Ipswich forward Jonathan Walters on the hour mark, while Pennant was handed his Premier League return by Pulis.

Stoke enjoyed prolonged spells of possession in the second half as Villa sat back and looked to break on the counter attack, and the visitors defended stoutly until Jones finally thwarted Dunne and Collins's marking with a well-timed leap to meet Etherington's dinked cross.

A period of relentless Stoke pressure then ensued; the visitors' resistance was broken in the 93rd minute as Huth slammed the ball home from close range after more fine work from Etherington down the left.

The Potters had only won one of their last eight Premier League games at the Britannia. Pulis will hope this dramatic victory will act as a springboard while Villa's attentions turn to negotiating the release of Houllier from his commitments with the French FA in time for the home clash with Bolton on Saturday.

Dan Quarrell / Eurosport

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