Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – A Xherdan Shaqiri cracker put the gloss on a 3-1 Stoke City home win on Saturday to leave Hull City deep in Premier League relegation trouble.
Travel-sick Hull at least had the consolation of Swansea City losing 1-0 at Watford, meaning the Tigers stay two points above the Welsh side, who occupy the last spot in the relegation zone.
Mid-table Stoke were on a rotten run of four league defeats on the bounce but needed just six minutes to go in front when Marko Arnautovic lashed into the top corner from the edge of the box after being set up by Swiss winger Shaqiri.
The same duo combined minutes later and Austrian international forward Arnautovic ought to have made it 2-0 but missed the target.
It was all Stoke but then Hull had their first real chance of the afternoon, only for striker Oumar Niasse to squander the opportunity.
Hull — without a league away win under boss Marco Silva since he took charge in January — belatedly got into the game, Liverpool loanee Lazar Markovic prominent as the strugglers ramped up the pressure.
Niasse, who was proving a handful, was booked for going in late on Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant on the stroke of half time and then escaped with just a ticking-off after shoving Geoff Cameron.
The second period began as the first ended and Hull got the goal they deserved on 51 minutes when centre-back Harry Maguire took advantage of poor defending and a deflection to make it 1-1 after a scramble in the area.
Goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic then rescued Hull with a terrific stop from a header by substitute Jonathan Walters and Niasse, on loan from Everton, was then again wasteful as he wildly blasted over with the goal at his mercy.
Stoke punished Niasse and Hull on 66 minutes when Arnautovic sent Walters scampering away on the wing and his peach of a cross was met by a soaring Peter Crouch, 36, his fellow substitute, to head home in trademark fashion.
The introductions of Walters and Crouch by manager Mark Hughes had swung the game back in Stoke’s favour and 10 minutes from time the classy Shaqiri made it 3-1 when he cut onto his trusty left foot and bent the ball into the top corner from outside the area.
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