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Crouch nudges Stoke past struggling Saints

London (AFP) – Stoke City held off a frantic late onslaught as Peter Crouch scored the winner to edge Southampton 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.

But Mark Hughes’s team only earnt their second win of the campaign after Saints forward Manolo Gabbiadini spurned two late chances to steal a draw.

Mame Diouf put Stoke in front with a first half header only for Japan’s Maya Yoshida to level with a stunning volley on 79 minutes.

But Crouch tapped in five minutes from time in a dramatic finale to snatch the win, before Italian Gabbiadini’s misses.

The result left the sides level on eight points from seven games in mid-table, but Southampton had much to regret after dominating possession.

Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino gave wantaway defender Virgil van Dijk his first start of the season following his attempts to force through a move to Liverpool in the close season.

The 26-year-old Dutchman smothered Stoke’s struggling striker Saido Berahino to such an extent that Hughes took him off for veteran Crouch with 20 minutes left.

Berahino had the chance to make it 2-0 after he was pulled down in the box just before the break, but Fraser Forster dived to his left to parry the spot-kick and leave Stoke’s major summer signing still in search of a first goal for his new employers.

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