Stoke’s Butland stars in West Ham stalemate

Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Stoke City had goalkeeper Jack Butland to thank for keeping them in the game in a 0-0 home draw with West Ham United in the Premier League on Saturday.

Stoke were virtually safe from relegation despite a dreadful run of five defeats in six games going into the match, but it was a useful point for West Ham and their under-pressure manager Slaven Bilic as they inched away from the drop zone.

But West Ham will feel they should have won it.

The visitors had the first chance of the game after just three minutes when Manuel Lanzini cut in but his curler was easily saved by England stopper Butland, recently back after more than a year out injured.

Saido Berahino, desperately looking for his first Stoke goal since moving from West Brom, then saw his effort well blocked by Winston Reid as the home side enjoyed plenty of the ball early on.

West Ham came closest to taking the lead with a brilliant Andre Ayew bicycle kick, but in front of the watching England manager Gareth Southgate, Butland saved impressively.

And the Londoners, whose own poor run has seen them dragged dangerously close to the relegation zone, had another golden chance after a moment of magic from Jonathan Calleri.

The Argentine striker, who has hardly featured for West Ham, tried to rabona the ball home after a strong run but his clever effort was blocked moments before the break.

Stoke failed to register a shot on target in the first half but they started the second brightly, midfielder Joe Allen flashing a volley into the side netting, then Xherdan Shaqiri poked wide from close range.

West Ham went up the other end and Butland, 24, again displayed the quality that has made him one of England’s finest current goalkeepers, denying Ayew and Lanzini in quick succession.

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