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  • Stoke City 2-1 Aston Villa:Downing diving-header,Huth last-gasp win

    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.
    Stoke recorded their first points of the Premier League campaign as 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 of the game.

    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 as Huth stole all three points for Tony Pulis's side.

    Neither manager was present at the ground as Gerard Houllier was obliged to attend an awards function in France, while Pulis was absent for the first half while he attended to family matters.

    Jones and Marc Wilson were handed home debuts for the hosts after their deadline day moves as Eidur Gudjohnsen and Pennant were confined to the bench, and the imposing forward was slipped through on goal by Wilson in the 11th minute, only for Brad Friedel to save superbly.

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

    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 after Rory Delap hurled a throw in into the box, and James Collins blocked the ball with his hand with referee Lee Probert seemingly oblivious.

    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 to save 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 with a dramatic entrance as he proceeded to spur on his side in theatrical fashion.

    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 as Pulis stamped his authority on the second half.

    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.

    Then ensued a period of relentless Stoke pressure as Villa were firmly pegged back in their half, and 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, but Pulis will hope that the dramatic victory will spur his side on, while Villa will be hoping that Houllier can negotiate a release from his commitments with the French FA in time for the home clash with Bolton on Saturday.
    Dan Quarrell / Eurosport

    Team Line-up:

    Stoke: Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Faye, Collins, Delap, Whitehead, Wilson, Etherington, Walters, Jones. Subs: Begovic, Higginbotham, Whelan, Gudjohnsen, Fuller, Pennant, Wilkinson
    Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Ashley Young, Albrighton, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Downing, Agbonlahor. Subs: Guzan, Ireland, Heskey, Beye, Cuellar, Clark, Hogg


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