Stoke City’s promising start to the season continued as they claimed an impressive 3-1 victory at Swansea City.
Nick Powell headed Stoke in front before former Swan Sam Clucas doubled the lead and celebrated by holding his shirt up to the home crowd.
Leo Ostigard headed the third before Joel Piroe responded with a header.
It was a difficult night for new Swansea boss Russell Martin, who is still searching for a first Championship win at his new club.
But it has been a much brighter start for Stoke, who have taken seven points from their opening three games of the new league season.
Martin had got a first taste of the renamed Swansea.com Stadium in last Saturday’s goalless draw with Sheffield United, when his new team dominated the ball but lacked menace in the final third.
They were short on attacking threat once more against the Potters, but this time they struggled to maintain possession too.
Stoke’s high press was too much for Swansea in the opening stages, with the hosts at times unable to get out of their own half.
The result was an early opportunity for Tommy Smith, who shot over from Josh Tymon’s cross, before Sam Surridge headed straight at Swansea goalkeeper Steven Benda.
Stoke’s breakthrough came from a set-piece, with Smith sending in an inviting free-kick and Powell finding space between white shirts to head inside Benda’s near post.
Swansea laboured through the first period, with Martin responding by making a tactical switch seven minutes before the break as he sacrificed Yan Dhanda to send on another forward in Piroe.
His team improved slightly, yet Stoke took full control early in the second half when Swansea coughed up possession in their own defensive third and Surridge fed Clucas to roll in a low shot from the edge of the box.
Clucas struggled to make an impact after joining Swansea in a deal worth up to £16.5m in 2017, with the Welsh club relegated from the Premier League in what proved to be his solitary season on their books.
He savoured his goalscoring return, sprinting towards the East Stand before removing his shirt and holding it in the air.
A concern for Michael O’Neill was the loss of the influential Powell to injury, though that did not stop Stoke stretching their advantage when Harry Souttar headed Clucas’ corner against the post and on-loan Brighton defender Ostigard swept in the rebound.
It was turning into a torrid evening for Swansea, who are very much a work in progress under Martin, though they did at least offer a response of sorts when Jake Bidwell crossed for summer recruit Piroe to head home his first Championship goal.
Even so, a return of one point from three games is far from ideal for last season’s losing Championship play-off finalists.
Swansea head coach Russell Martin:
“The most disappointing thing for us as a group is that we conceded two set-pieces, so say what you want about the scoreline, and then there’s a mistake in there. I can accept the mistake. That’ll happen less and less the more conditioning we get.
“But the set-pieces hurt. There’s not much between the two teams, anyone who tells you different, I would disagree with. It was a really competitive game.
“Overall I am hurt, I am disappointed we lost and the manner of the goals. But let’s put it in perspective: we have played against two teams who are going to be right up there; we have 12 guys who are 22 or under in our 18; we have been in the building two weeks yesterday.
“It’s a long, old season. The fitter we get, the stronger we get, we’ll be fine.”
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill:
“I am delighted with the performance and the result, particularly the first 20-25 minutes we were excellent.
“We dealt with a team that can play and wants to play – it’s refreshing.
“I don’t think we conceded too many chances. We had to show we could be good without the ball up to half-time, then we got the goals at a good time.
“Their goal gave them a bit of energy but to be fair we saw the game out pretty comfortably.”
O’Neill on Nick Powell:
“He felt something in his thigh. We will have to see. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.”
- 22LatibeaudiereSubstituted forLairdat 58′minutes
- 6FultonSubstituted forPatersonat 58′minutes
- 21DhandaSubstituted forPiroeat 38′minutes
- 25PowellSubstituted forThompsonat 50′minutes
- 7ClucasBooked at 53mins
- 14TymonBooked at 81mins
- 22SurridgeSubstituted forFletcherat 74′minutes
- Josh Smith
Match ends, Swansea City 1, Stoke City 3.
Second Half ends, Swansea City 1, Stoke City 3.
Offside, Swansea City. Ryan Manning tries a through ball, but Jake Bidwell is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Joël Piroe (Swansea City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ryan Manning with a cross.
Steven Benda (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Steven Fletcher (Stoke City).
Attempt saved. Jamal Lowe (Swansea City) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom left corner.
Ryan Manning (Swansea City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Sam Clucas (Stoke City).
Josh Tymon (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt blocked. Joël Piroe (Swansea City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Leo Østigard.
Attempt blocked. Joël Piroe (Swansea City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Matt Grimes.
Foul by Jamal Lowe (Swansea City).
Leo Østigard (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Stoke City. Steven Fletcher replaces Sam Surridge.
Goal! Swansea City 1, Stoke City 3. Joël Piroe (Swansea City) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jake Bidwell with a cross.
Attempt missed. Sam Surridge (Stoke City) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Sam Clucas with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Ben Cabango.
Attempt blocked. Sam Surridge (Stoke City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Joe Allen.