Belfast Telegraph

Plenty to cheer Mark Hughes as Stoke see off Hull 3-1

Xherdan Shaqiri's technical prowess earned Stoke boss Mark Hughes' praise, as did the dependability of Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch after all three starred in the 3-1 victory over Hull.

The Potters' four-game losing streak was halted with a win that moved them 11 points above a relegation zone that the Tigers are still just two clear from as they once again emerged from an away game empty handed.

They were on course for a point when Harry Maguire levelled following Marko Arnautovic's early opener, but Hughes introduced Walters and Crouch around the hour mark and the two soon combined to restore the Potters' lead with a trademark header from the former England international.

Another customary strike from Shaqiri sealed the three points 10 minutes from time as the Swiss unleashed a 30-yard attempt that flew into the top corner of the net to leave Hughes gushing about his forward's ability.

"The icing on the cake was Shaqiri's goal which was a fantastic strike and capped off a really good individual performance," he said.

"He's all power and strength and muscularity. He's a technician as well, it's all about his technical ability and ability to pick the right amount of swerve, cut and whatever else he does. It's a fantastic goal. I was pleased with him because he's had a tough time with injuries."

Hughes' decision to withdraw Saido Berahino was jeered by the Potters' support, yet his call was soon vindicated once his replacement Crouch had risen to meet Walters' cross.

"They have done fantastic for this club for many, many years," Hughes said of Walters and Crouch.

"You know what you're going to get, they understand what's required when they are called upon. That was the key from my point of view.

"We needed their guile and understanding and they affected it exactly how I thought they would."

Stoke's slump had contributed to what Hughes acknowledged was " anxiety " among his ranks, and the tension around nearly boiled over when Erik Pieters and team-mate Lee Grant rowed on the pitch after a defensive mix-up.

Grant shoved Pieters during an argument that occurred moments after Charlie Adam had kicked a seat when being substituted, and just before Crouch's headed goal made it 2-1.

"If you're demanding of yourself and team-mates that's what happens," Hughes added of the incidents.

"It can be a difference of opinion or players getting taken off, sometimes they look at it from their point of view whereas I've got to look at it from a team point of view and how the game is panning out.

"I haven't got a problem with it, it's not an issue within the group. I expect and demand they challenge each other every time we play."

Hull arrived in Staffordshire without a league victory on their travels since August and enjoyed fruitful spells, even if it was another fruitless trip.

Swansea's defeat at Watford meant it was as you were in terms of the league table and the gap to the bottom three, with Tigers boss Marco Silva adamant his team need to be ruthless if they are to pick up more points.

"The difference is clear to me - it's the finishing," he said.

"We had a lot of chances like Stoke; they scored and we didn't score.

"We lost the big chance to take points. This is what I feel in this moment. Now is the moment to look at the table and look at the results of our opponents but I prefer to analyse our performance.

"To take points away, and at home, we need to improve. We can't start like we did first 15 minutes."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph