Nine-man Stoke fall to 1-0 defeat by West Brom
Stoke sunk to a 1-0 defeat to West Brom after having two men sent off in the space of six first-half minutes on ex-Potters boss Tony Pulis' maiden return to the Britannia Stadium.
Ibrahim Afellay and Charlie Adam both appeared to only have themselves to blame as they were shown straight red cards in the 25th and 31st minutes respectively, the former having put his hand in the face of Craig Gardner and the latter seeming to stamp on Craig Dawson.
West Brom - again with Tottenham target Saido Berahino not part of their squad - subsequently grabbed the lead in first-half stoppage time as Salomon Rondon headed in his first goal since joining for a club-record £12million over the summer.
Stoke, who left a player with an uncertain future out themselves in Jonathan Walters, put up a creditable fight thereafter.
But it was always going to be difficult to salvage anything from the game following the two entirely avoidable-looking dismissals, and they remain without a Barclays Premier League victory this season, while West Brom now have their first.
The mood among the Stoke faithful had been incredibly positive at first, with Pulis receiving a warm reception from them as he emerged from the tunnel, and the home side making the better start to the contest.
Potters record signing Xherdan Shaqiri, making his home debut, flashed the ball across the West Brom goal early on, Adam sent a drive over and Mame Diouf headed into Boaz Myhill's arms.
But things then suddenly became uncomfortable for the Potters as Jack Butland was called upon to make a fine parry that kept a James Morrison shot out.
And moments later, Stoke were down to 10 men when Afellay, having been brought down by Gardner and then touched on the face by his hand, reacted by flicking his own hand into the Albion midfielder's face.
Referee Michael Oliver booked Gardner, sent Afellay off - and soon after he had his red card out again.
Stoke had just gone close to scoring, with Diouf lifting the ball over Myhill but just being beaten to it as he tried to finish by Gareth McAuley, when Adam floored Dawson with a challenge before appearing to stand on his leg.
Oliver gave Adam his marching orders and Pulis looked to swiftly make the visitors' two-man advantage count, throwing on Rickie Lambert for Claudio Yacob.
Within a few minutes, Lambert's swerving shot had been pushed over by Butland.
And six minutes later West Brom had the lead when Lambert lofted a delivery to the far post and Rondon headed the ball back across Butland into the corner of the net.
Rondon had a chance to score again shortly after the restart but put his header over, and Darren Fletcher then had a shot deflected wide.
Stoke, who lost Glen Johnson to an injury, did a good job of keeping their opponents at bay and even looked like they might threaten an equaliser at times, but nothing materialised.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"It's stupid by Affelay, Oliver has previous though! #STKWBA" - former Stoke midfielder Matthew Etherington.
Jack Butland: 7 (out of 10)
Glen Johnson: 6
Geoff Cameron: 6
Marc Muniesa: 6
Erik Pieters: 6
Marco van Ginkel: 6
Glenn Whelan: 7
Charlie Adam: 4
Xherdan Shaqiri: 6
Ibrahim Afellay: 4
Mame Diouf: 6
Marc Wilson: 6
Marko Arnautovic: 6
Stephen Ireland: 6
Boaz Myhill: 6 (out of 10)
Craig Dawson: 6
Gareth McAuley: 6
Jonas Olsson: 6
Joleon Lescott: 6
Claudio Yacob: 5
Darren Fletcher: 6
James McClean: 6
James Morrison: 7
Craig Gardner: 6
Salomon Rondon: 6
Rickie Lambert: 7
Callum McManaman: 6
Cristian Gamboa: 6
James Morrison. Helped West Brom make the most of their sudden numerical advantage and was generally a threat whenever Albion went forward.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Stoke's fans. Gave West Brom and ex-Potters boss Tony Pulis the reception he deserved on his first return to the Britannia Stadium when he emerged from the tunnel and jogged to the dugout before kick-off. Most supporters were on their feet as they applauded him, and Pulis clapped back and waved enthusiastically in what was a genuinely touching moment.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
He may say differently in public, but Stoke manager Mark Hughes - who looked livid at half-time - will surely feel as if his team shot themselves in the foot here in what had looked on paper a good opportunity to secure a first Premier League win of the season. Pulis will be pleased to have emerged from an emotional occasion with his side's first three points of the campaign on the board - but may be concerned that Albion could not do greater damage to opponents who were down to nine men for a whole hour.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
The two sending-off incidents demonstrated what appeared to be some extreme petulance from Ibrahim Afellay and Charlie Adam, and there will be few who have much sympathy with them over their dismissals.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Arsenal v Stoke (Premier League, September 12)
West Brom v Southampton (Premier League, September 12)