Everton vs. Stoke: Final score 1-0, Toffees edge out Stoke

Jan Kruger

Everton managed to win a difficult match against Stoke City thanks to a superb individual goal from Kevin Mirallas, grabbing three victories in a row for the first time all season.

Although Stoke City (via Marc Wilson) hit the crossbar in the third minute following a scramble in the box, it was Everton, playing in a 3-4-3, who had the better of the first half. Wilson came perilously close to giving up a penalty when a deflected shot found its way to his right hand only to see Mike Jones wave play on. Nikica Jelavic twice let the Potters off the hook with poor headers before Seamus Coleman flashed a shot high and wide after getting clear.

For all the hosts' dominance, it was actually a counterattack that did Stoke in. Tim Howard did well to punch away a free kick, and the ball fell kindly to Mirallas. His dash up the field looked to have been preemptively thwarted by Steven N'Zonzi, who played a beautiful wrap-around tackle, but a lucky break saw the Belgian pick up possession again and from there there was no stopping him. American international Geoff Cameron was turned inside out and left in the dust, and all that was left was the finish. Miralles tucked the ball under Asmir Begovic to give Everton a 1-0 lead.

The Toffees continued to apply pressure but going behind seemed to inspire the visitors into mounting some sort of coherent attack, and Stoke did manage to force the ball home in the 37th minute only to see the goal rightly disallowed for a Shawcross offside. Howard was then called into action to parry aside Jonathan Walters' angled drive, ensuring that the 1-0 lead lasted until halftime.

Both sides had chances after the break. Ryan Shotton put a free header over the crossbar and Leighton Baines drove a free kick straight against the wall from a good position before Jelavic grazed the outside of the post under similar circumstances. Cameron Jerome then fired wide following some excellent work by Shotton.

But Stoke needed to make more headway than they were managing, and the introductions of Kenwyne Jones and Charlie Adam didn't do much to help the visitors break down the massed Everton defence. It wasn't exactly comfortable for the Toffees in the closing stages, but despite a very late free kick at the edge of the box it never looked like the hosts would be dropping points in this one. And they didn't.

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