Football: Everton through to Barclays final as Stoke crash out

PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Tim Howard made a crucial save to deny Marco Van Ginkel as Everton beat Stoke City in a penalty shootout to reach the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy on Wednesday.

Following a goalless draw between the Premier League sides at Singapore's National Stadium, the American goalkeeper got a strong hand to turn away Van Ginkel's effort in the second round of the shootout to give his side the upper hand.

With all of the other spot kicks successfully converted, Phil Jagielka found the top right corner with Everton's final attempt to seal a 5-4 victory.

The Toffees will meet the winner of Wednesday's other match between Arsenal and a Singapore Select XI in the final on Saturday while Stoke will play in the third-place play-off earlier that day.

With both teams still in the early stages of preparations for the new Premier League season, the match at Singapore's National Stadium was a low tempo affair with few clear-cut chances.

Stoke had the best opportunity of the first half after 11 minutes when Oliver Shenton's low cross from the left found Peter Odemwingie, who blazed wastefully wide from 10 yards.

Jagielka then made a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Marko Arnautovic after Tony Hibbert's slip had looked like giving the Austrian striker a clear run on goal in the 28th minute.

With half-time looming, Romelu Lukaku ran on to Steven Pienaar's ball from the left and tucked the ball into the Stoke net only to see the effort disallowed for offside.

Half-time substitute Steven Naismith almost made an immediate impact for Everton at the start of the second half as he burst clear of the Stoke defence but saw his effort tipped over by goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard.

On the hour mark, Odemwingie's low ball from the right picked out Stephen Ireland whose first-time effort at the near post was well stopped by Howard.

Just seconds later, Gerard Deulofeu was sent clear at the other end by Naismith but his weak side-foot shot was easily saved by Haugaard.

With seven minutes left, Naismith wriggled his way through on the left channel but was unable to beat Haugaard from close range.

And in the final minute, Lukaku muscled his way past a pair of Stoke defenders but shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

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