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Whitehead sets Stoke on way to Maccabi win

Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC 1-2 Stoke City FC
Second-half goals from Dean Whitehead and Peter Crouch earned Stoke a win that took them four points clear at the Group E summit with two games left.

Dean Whitehead takes the acclaim after his strike
Dean Whitehead takes the acclaim after his strike ©Getty Images

Dean Whitehead scored one and set up another as Stoke City FC triumphed in Israel to cement their spot at the top of Group E, needing just one more point to secure a round of 32 spot.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC's own aspirations are all but over after a loss that ends their 12-game unbeaten European home record. A scrappy first half brought few chances, with only Ryan Shotton's deflected effort, which struck a post, and a Matthew Upson header providing excitement. Whitehead prevented another barren 45 minutes when he scored from an angle after the break and Peter Crouch then doubled the lead, before Roberto Colautti headed a last-gasp consolation.

With Stoke nine games unbeaten in Europe, Maccabi's home record was always going to be under threat. Yet there was little danger until, with 32 minutes gone, Shotton fired a loose ball into a crowded area and watched it hit a post via a deflection. Upson it was who had provided the last touch, and the centre-back then drew an excellent save from Barak Levy with a powerful header, forcing the 18-year-old to fling himself sharply to his left.

Maccabi were unable to threaten and were punished six minutes after the break, Andy Wilkinson helping the ball into the area and allowing Whitehead to burst onto it and slide in from the left. Crouch then entered the fray on the hour and doubled the Potters lead three minutes later, tapping in Whitehead's pass across the face of goal after his team-mate had beaten the offside trap to collect Kenwyne Jones's through ball.

Colautti rose above Robert Huth to flick a Sheran Yeini cross inside the far post on 91 minutes, but it was too late to prompt a Maccabi comeback.

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