AFC Bournemouth 1 Stoke City 3: Imbula opens account as Potters return to form


Giannelli Imbula and Ibrahim Afellay scored their first Premier League goals as Stoke City emphatically returned to form with a 3-1 win at AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.

The visitors took an early lead when a poor clearance on the edge of the area gave club-record singing Imbula the chance to net an impressive volley.

Despite suffering injury blows to Marc Muniesa and Glen Johnson, Stoke sealed the points with two goals in three minutes shortly after half-time.

Afellay confidently finished after a swift counter-attack, before substitute Joselu added a third with a towering header.

Bournemouth substitute Matt Ritchie pulled one back with an excellent strike, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation for the hosts.

Stoke had suffered three straight league defeats and failed to score in their last four coming into the game, but the victory sees them move up to ninth.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, have only recorded three wins at the Vitality Stadium this season and remain 15th, four points clear of the bottom three after a second consecutive loss.

Stoke had previously gone over six hours without a Premier League goal, but that sorry record was halted after just nine minutes.

Xherdan Shaqiri's menacing cross was only half-cleared by Simon Francis on the edge the area, allowing Imbula to rifle home with a fierce 25-yard volley that found the bottom corner.

Stoke looked more likely to find the game's second goal and Jonathan Walters nearly marked his return to the starting line-up in fine style, but his half-volley on the turn found the side-netting.

Shaqiri forced a smart save from goalkeeper Artur Boruc with a swerving long-range effort, before rolling another shot wide after Afellay's defence-splitting pass had given him a great opportunity.

A laboured Bournemouth display saw them struggle to produce a meaningful first-half response, although Jack Butland had to be alert to keep out Charlie Daniels' looping effort. 

Injury forced Muniesa off at half time, while Eddie Howe introduced Matt Ritchie and Joshua King in a bid to find a breakthrough for the hosts.

The defensive problems for Mark Hughes worsened just moments later as Glen Johnson had to be replaced after landing awkwardly in his own area.

But the visitors killed off the game with an impressive burst of three goals in two minutes.

A wonderful breakaway saw Walters cut inside from the right and feed Afellay on the edge of the box, with the Dutchman producing a smart finish on 52 minutes, before substitute Joselu rose highest to head home Shaqiri's teasing cross.

Bournemouth kept battling, and pulled one back in the 57th minute as Ritchie found himself on the end of Daniels' driven cross to arrow a 20-yard volley past Butland.

Ritchie could have doubled his tally, but could not quite connect with King's teasing cross, while Junior Stanislas missed an almost identical chance as Bournemouth were unable to set up a grandstand finish.