Peter Crouch's hat-trick fires Stoke past Stevenage in EFL Cup
Peter Crouch scored a hat-trick as Stoke advanced to the third round of the EFL Cup by sweeping aside League Two Stevenage 4-0 at the Lamex Stadium.
The former England striker notched either side of Phil Bardsley's brilliant 30-yard strike, before adding his third with 20 minutes left to seal a comprehensive victory for the Premier League outfit.
Mark Hughes made five changes to his Stoke side from their 4-1 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday with Charlie Adam and Jonathan Walters playing just behind Crouch.
It took just 13 minutes for the 35-year-old to make an impact, nodding home from three yards out after a neat exchange between Marko Arnautovic and Joe Allen had carved open the Stevenage defence.
Crouch came close to a second on 20 minutes, heading narrowly wide from Arnautovic's whipped cross from the left-hand side.
Bardsley's wonder-strike increased Stoke's advantage on 32 minutes, giving goalkeeper Jamie Jones no chance from just inside the Stevenage half.
Jones reacted smartly to deny Allen just before the break as the Potters continued their first-half dominance.
The 26-year-old Welshman picked up possession from Crouch's knock down before swivelling into space, but Jones expertly tipped away his goal-bound effort for a corner.
Despite struggling to deal with Stoke's attacking threat, Stevenage began to enjoy spells of possession.
Rowan Liburd weaved into space but could not evade the presence of Ryan Shawcross, who duly blocked his strike towards goal.
Stevenage boss Darren Sarll partnered Liburd with Jake Hyde in attack as the hosts went in search of a route back into the match.
However, Stoke put the tie out of reach just three minutes into the second half as Crouch grabbed his second, converting another Arnautovic cross with an emphatic header.
Walters came close to adding a fourth on 57 minutes
The Republic of Ireland international darted into space but defender Fraser Franks reacted well to deflect the forward's effort away for a corner.
Jones was on hand again to parry away an Adam free-kick, but it was left to Crouch to add a fourth and complete his hat-trick.
The striker showed brilliant chest control before firing beyond Jones with a trademark acrobatic volley from Allen's right-wing cross.
An under-siege Stevenage goalkeeper Jones reacted well to deny Adam again before full-time, tipping away the Scotland international's curling effort as Stoke eased their way into the third round.
Source : PA