STOKE-ON-TRENT, United Kingdom (AFP) - Joe Allen scored twice as Stoke City collected their first win of the Premier League season on Saturday (Oct 15) by defeating bottom side Sunderland 2-0 to climb out of the relegation zone.
Allen headed in the opening goal after just eight minutes before the Wales midfielder doubled his tally with Stoke's second in first-half stoppage time to end a seven-match winless run.
Mark Hughes' side recorded their first clean sheet in 18 matches, a sequence dating back to last March, as the Potters climbed up to 17th place, two points above the bottom three.
Sunderland remain adrift at the foot of the table as the search for a first win under new manager David Moyes goes on.
Allen, who scored against Marko Arnautovic and Austria in a 2-2 draw in World Cup qualifying earlier this month, ran onto a dinked cross from the Austrian to nod in for the third match in succession.
Only West Ham (17) had conceded more goals than the 16 let in by Stoke this campaign, and captain Ryan Shawcross produced a superb sliding intervention to block Jermain Defoe's goalbound effort on the quarter-hour.
Defoe then fired over from the edge of the area, while Wilfried Bony went close to increasing Stoke's lead after holding off Papy Djilobodji and firing just wide of Jordan Pickford's left-hand post.
The Sunderland goalkeeper denied Geoff Cameron from close range after the USA international barged his way into the visiting penalty area, but the Black Cats were punished after failing to clear the resulting Xherdan Shaqiri corner.
Allen has become a mainstay in Stoke's midfield following his £13 million (S$22 million) move from Liverpool in July, and he netted his fourth goal in three games after threading the ball home past a crowd of players.
Allen went close to completing an unlikely hat-trick early in the second half after following up Bony's initial strike, only to see his effort blocked, while Charlie Adam's long-range shot clipped the crossbar late on.