Football: Crouch key as Stoke see off sorry Sunderland

Stoke City's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring their third goal.
Stoke City's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring their third goal.PHOTO: REUTERS

SUNDERLAND, United Kingdom (AFP) - Peter Crouch scored one goal and set up another as Stoke beat Sunderland 3-1 on Saturday (Jan 14) with this 14th defeat of the season piling the pressure on David Moyes' relegation strugglers.

Stoke's first win at Wearside since 1994 lifted them up two places to ninth, while Sunderland slipped to one off the foot of the Premier League table.

Stoke were smartly out of the blocks at the Stadium of Light.

Marko Arnautovic put the Potters into the lead on quarter of an hour, the Austrian forward connecting with a long punt from midfield to smash in the rebound after Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone saved his first attempt.

Sunderland, aiming to build on their memorable 2-2 stalemate with Liverpool last time out, were being frozen out of the Stoke area.

And Moyes' side fell further behind on 22 minutes when Arnautovic struck for a double with Crouch playing provider.

Sunderland's shaky defence - Arnautovic was unmarked for both goals - was at fault again as Crouch made it three, the former England striker rising to nod in a high cross that sailed over the hosts' inert back line.

Shortly before Crouch's 99th Premier League goal Mannone was almost caught out by a long range attempt from Xherdan Shaqiri which rolled under the Italian keeper only to hit a post.

Just as Stoke appeared to be sailing to a rare away win Jermain Defoe popped up to keep Sunderland in the hunt.

Not for the first time the 34-year-old goal machine gave the home fans something to shout about when latching onto a Donald Love pass to grab his 12th goal of the season as half-time approached.

Moyes evidently roused his troops at the break as the second half was barely under way before Fabio Borini unleashed a venemous shot into the hands of Stoke keeper Lee Grant.

Hughes, who had made three changes from the side that beat Watford 2-0 last time out, replaced Charlie Adam with Ibrahim Afellay on 70 minutes.

But any hope Sunderland had of turning things around came to nothing, their forgetful afternoon ending with a verbal bust-up between teammates Patrick van Aanholt and Adnan Januzaj.