LONDON (REUTERS) - Turkey forward Cenk Tosun struck twice after the break as Everton beat 10-man Stoke City 2-1 in the snowy Midlands to end a miserable away run in the Premier League and deepen their hosts’ relegation fears on Saturday (March 17).
Stoke had Charlie Adam sent off before halftime for a rash foul on Wayne Rooney but defended resolutely to hold the visitors at bay until the 69th minute when Tosun scored from close range after having a first attempt saved.
When substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting poked in Joe Allen’s free kick in the 77th minute, injuring himself in the process, it seemed second-bottom Stoke might salvage an important point in the relegation scrap.
But their hopes were crushed when Tosun beat England keeper Jack Butland with a diving header from Theo Walcott’s delivery to end a run of five straight away league defeats for Everton and take them to 40 points.
Stoke remained three points below the safety zone and with games against Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool next month their 10-year residence in the top flight is in peril.
Adam got his marching orders in the 30th minute for a lunging two-footed tackle on Rooney and manager Paul Lambert had no complaints about that decision.
He was upset, however, at Tosun’s opening goal, feeling the Turkish player was offside for his initial effort, which was saved by Butland before the ball came back to him.
“Looking at their first goal, it is offside and how the officials have missed that I am not entirely sure,” he said.
“In these games, especially in situations like we are in, then you need the big decisions to go your way, and today they haven’t, unfortunately.”
Choupo-Moting was only on the pitch seven minutes, coming on in the 72nd minute, scoring the equaliser and then hobbling off.
Tosun’s stylish second goal, his fourth in three games, earned Everton back-to-back league wins for the first time since December, and the 26-year-old said he was now up to speed after his big-money move from Besiktas in January.
“I think I’ve settled in very well. I feel better,” he said.
Everton manager Sam Allardyce said his ninth-placed side should now be safe and could start to look up rather than down.
“It puts us on the 40-point mark, and even though mathematically we are not safe, I don’t think anyone can catch us now and we can start to prepare for next season,” he said.