Ibrahim Affelay and Phil Bardsley sent Stoke City into the League Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Britannia Stadium on Tuesday.
- Stoke City 2 Sheffield Wednesday 0
- Affelay volleys Stoke ahead
- Bardsley smashes home a second
- Crouch leaves the pitch injured
Stoke looked comfortable, if not incredibly threatening, in the opening stages, and took the lead when Joselu (a substitute for the injured Peter Crouch), arced a cross into the box for Ibrahim Affelay to volley home at the far post.
The beginning of the second half saw the introduction of Phil Bardsley for Glen Johnson, and it proved a crucial switch when they earned a 75th-minute free kick, which Marco van Ginkel laid off for the the defender smash in and double their lead.
Stoke endured a slightly frustrating opening 15 minutes, culminating in veteran striker Peter Crouch, who was making just his third start of the season, needing to be replaced early with a hamstring injury, with Spanish striker Joselu coming on in his place.
The 25-year-old forward took little time to settle in, feeding to ball to Glen Johnson to find Jon Walters for their first real opportunity, but the Irishman’s effort was straight at teenage goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith.
The match sprang into life after that opportunity, with Tom Lees called into action to block Ibrahim Afellay’s shot, before Lees sprang a counterattack and found Gary Hooper, but he couldn’t latch onto the cross.
Stoke went ahead in the 29th minute through Afellay. It started with a throw-in towards Joselu, who did well to wiggle his way into a crossing opportunity and loop a cross into the penalty box, where the Dutchman was lurkling at the far post, and had time to watch it drop and strike a sweet volley into the back of the net.
Wednesday were briefly down to 10 men when Lees needed some treatment, and Stoke pushed forward looking for a second with a succession of crosses into the box, before Lees was eventually replaced with Czech defender Daniel Pudil.
Both sides made a change at halftime, with Phil Bardsley replacing Johnson for the hosts, while Wednesday swapped out defender Jack Hunt for number 10 Lewis McGugan.
The Potters could have doubled their lead at the hour mark when Joselu excellently took the ball under his control, jinxed past cntre-back Glenn Loovens and released an effort on goal. Wildsmith had come out to block the shot and deflected it into the path of Afellay, who couldn’t get a shot away for his second of the game thanks to the attentions of Modou Sougou.
With an hour played Wednesday forced themselves into the game a bit more, with Ross Wallace whipping in a cross that Lucas Joao just couldn’t connect with, before Pudil’s volley flew just wide of the top corner.
But Stoke would double their lead soon afterwards through Bardsley. The Potters won themselves a free kick in a tantalising central position just outside the penalty box. Marco van Ginkel takes the setpiece but just taps it to the side for the Scotland international to blast in off the post.
That second goal was necessary for Stoke to kill of the game, and the subsequent 15 minutes ticked by with little threat to Jack Butland’s goal as the Potters progress to the semi-finals.