Jack Butland’s return to Stoke’s first team after an absence of over a year didn’t end in a fairytale for the England international goalkeeper as strugglers Swansea emerged 2-0 winners in Saturday’s Premier League clash.
Goals by leading scorer Fernando Llorente and a deflected effort by Tom Carroll delivered the victory that Swansea manager Paul Clement had demanded after a recent slump put them back in deep trouble.
The win wasn’t enough for them to climb out of the bottom three – 10 man Hull beating Watford 2-0 kept the Tigers two points ahead – but at least keeps them in the hunt to escape.
Butland made his long awaited comeback after recovering from the broken ankle he suffered, playing for England against Germany, last year but within 10 minutes he was picking the ball out of his net.
Swansea’s outstanding player of the season Gylfi Sigurdsson was at the heart of their opener as the Icelandic playmaker teed up Llorente and the club’s leading scorer headed it past Butland.
The Swans felt vindicated as they had been angered to have a penalty appeal turned down moments earlier for handball against Ryan Shawcross.
Stoke battled their way back into the match and should have levelled later in the first-half but Saido Berahino, struggling for form since his move from West Brom in the January transfer window, put his header wastefully wide.
The visitors should have drawn level 20 minutes into the second-half but Marko Arnautovic shot high over the bar with his penalty attempt – after Xherdan Shaqiri had been brought down in the box.
They paid double for the wastefulness as the hosts went straight down the other end and scored through Carroll’s long range effort which might have tricked Butland having taken a wicked deflection off former Swans star Joe Allen in flight.