The hosts went 1-0 down in the 31st minute when their slack play at the back allowed Marouane Chamakh to score on his first Palace start. Charlie Adam equalised in the 58th minute, dispatching a shot beyond Julian Speroni from Jon Walters’ pass. Press Association Stoke came from behind with two goals in four minutes against Crystal Palace to ensure Mark Hughes’ first home game in charge of the Potters ended in a 2-1 victory. The hosts almost found an immediate reply as Crouch rose to get his head to Adam’s delivery and sent the ball against the bar. Palace were soon back on the attack, though, with Dean Moxey flashing an effort across the face of goal and narrowly wide. Jose Campana then looped a free-kick over the bar as the visitors finished the first half strongly. Stoke began the second period looking intent on getting themselves back in the game and within two minutes of the restart another good chance was missed by Crouch, with the striker completely miscuing an attempted header from a corner. Steven Nzonzi did not do much better in skewing a shot wide five minutes later, but Stoke kept up the tempo and Jon Walters’ produced an improved effort, lifting the ball over the bar. The equaliser duly arrived soon after as Walters received the ball from Crouch’s header and laid it to Adam, who placed it past Speroni into the net. Stoke’s momentum then swiftly yielded another goal as Huth and Shawcross made amends for their earlier sloppiness. Good perseverance in the box from the former saw the ball break for Shawcross to smash it home. Jason Puncheon went close to scoring a quick leveller, bursting into the box and unleashing a strike which Begovic slowed with a finger-tip at full stretch before smothering. Stoke then nearly added to their tally as Nzonzi lashed the ball against the post. Palace remained full of belief and after substitute Kevin Phillips had shot wide, Gayle was off-target with an ambitious volleyed attempt. Gayle also produced another unsuccessful shot in stoppage time as Stoke held on for the win. And Ryan Shawcross – who had been outmuscled by Chamakh in the build-up to the visitors’ goal – then netted what proved to be the winner in the 62nd minute, firing in when the ball ricocheted his way in the area. The result provided Hughes with his first points since being appointed as Stoke boss over the summer, and his first Barclays Premier League win since May 2012, when he was manager at QPR. Both Stoke and Palace were looking to bounce back from 1-0 defeats on the opening weekend of the season, and it was the home side who started the contest most brightly. Adam drilled a low shot from outside the box into the arms of Speroni in the sixth minute and the Potters continued to pressurise, winning three corners in quick succession but not being able to make anything of it. Dwight Gayle tried his luck at the other end in the 16th minute with a strike that Asmir Begovic got down to save, and Palace fans then appealed for a penalty when Joel Ward went down in the area under the attentions of Matthew Etherington, but referee Andre Marriner judged there had been no foul committed. Peter Crouch passed up an opportunity to put Stoke ahead in the 21st minute, nodding Etherington’s cross over the bar from inside the six-yard box. Palace had steadily been growing into the contest and just after the half-hour mark, they snatched the lead as Chamakh made the most of some poor Stoke defending. Alongside Shawcross, Chamakh chased a long ball which had been lofted forward by Damien Delaney, shrugged off the Potters defender with relative ease, cut inside – fooling Robert Huth – and slammed a shot past Begovic.
0Shares0000Venus Williams’ superior accuracy in the opening stages gave her the first set © AFP/File / GIUSEPPE CACACEAUCKLAND, New Zealand, Jan 1 – The ageless Venus Williams launched her 25th year as a professional by outlasting Victoria Azarenka in a three-set thriller on day two of the WTA Auckland Classic Tuesday.In the showdown between the two former world number ones, the 38-year-old Williams overcame Azarenka, nine years her junior, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3. The two hour 10 minute marathon was packed with power and precision, and in the end Azarenka’s nine aces were not enough.Williams’ superior accuracy in the opening stages gave her the first set, before Azarenka took the second by blasting winners as she moved her opponent from side to side.In the deciding third set there were two breaks by each player in the first six games before Williams opened a gap to go 5-3 up when Azarenka was wide with a cross-court forehand. The American then served for the match.“I love my job, I love what I do but tonight was not easy and maybe one of the toughest first rounds I’ve ever played,” Williams said, adding it was what she needed to start the year.“My goal was to get past the first round, did you see who I had to play, and we need these matches going into the Australian Open,” she said, referring to the year’s first Grand Slam which begins in just under two weeks.“Now I’m hoping the next round will be fruitful for me.”Defending champion Julia Goerges coasted through her first match with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Sweden’s Johanna Larsson, while fifth seed Barbora Strycova was forced into a three-set battle to survive Taylor Townsend.Strycova raced to a 5-1 lead over Townsend before the American lifted her game to force the match to a deciding set in which the Czech prevailed, to win 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3.“It was very tough, I thought I was playing well at the beginning and she couldn’t find the court in the first set,” Strycova said.“But then she started to serve better and with the wind and (her) a lefty, this mix wasn’t good for me and I couldn’t close it up at the end of the second set.”Fourth seed Petra Martic and injured eighth seed Alison Van Uytvanck both bowed out in the first round.American Sofia Kenin produced the first upset of the tournament when she knocked out Martic 7-5, 2-6, 6-2.Van Uytvanck retired with an ankle injury when leading Dutch qualifier Bibiane Schoofs 4-3 in the first set.Top seed Caroline Wozniacki will make her first appearance on Wednesday after a weather-delayed flight from Florida saw her match against Laura Siegemund of Germany pushed back a day.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)