Belfast Telegraph

Pressure mounts on Mark Hughes as Stoke lose to Newcastle

The pressure on Stoke boss Mark Hughes increased as Ayoze Perez's second-half strike secured Newcastle a 1-0 New Year's Day victory at the bet365 Stadium.

Perez struck in the 73rd minute to earn the Magpies - whose goalkeeper Karl Darlow made two superb late saves to deny Mame Diouf - a victory that takes them above the Potters in the Premier League table.

Newcastle's second win in 13 matches moves them up three places to 13th and they are now four points clear of the relegation zone.

Stoke, who have won only two in 12, drop one place to 16th and remain two points clear of the drop zone.

Cries of "you're being sacked in the morning" were heard after the goal, and there were boos from Stoke fans at the final whistle, while a 'Hughes Out' banner was on display.

Hughes had rested key players for Saturday's 5-0 loss at Chelsea, but the move did not pay off. Peter Crouch, Xherdan Shaqiri and Joe Allen were among six changes to the Stoke starting line-up and they failed to shine.

Newcastle also had a considerably adjusted XI, showing five changes from their 0-0 draw with Brighton, and the visitors made a bright start.

Three chances fell to Christian Atsu inside the opening 15 minutes, with the Ghanaian's first two shots going wide and his third being blocked by the foot of Jack Butland.

Stoke began to exert some pressure and Charlie Adam brought a diving save out of Darlow with a free-kick in the 27th minute.

But Newcastle should have taken the lead soon after, Ciaran Clark somehow sending the ball off-target from close range as he met Perez's flicked header.

Butland then dealt with a couple of Matt Ritchie efforts ahead of the interval, while Adam tried one of his long-distance specials, with his shot from the halfway line sailing just over.

Stoke looked more dangerous immediately after the break, and Darlow did well to push behind a curling shot from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Newcastle went close at the other end when Jonjo Shelvey sent a free-kick just wide, and the away side were then furious when substitute Dwight Gayle went down in the Stoke box after a tangle with Kurt Zouma and referee Chris Kavanagh ruled it was no penalty.

Newcastle were then celebrating as Perez met a fine cross by Jacob Murphy and shot past Butland, before breathing a sigh of relief following Darlow's two wonderful stops that kept out Stoke substitute Diouf's acrobatic effort and header.

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