Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle United: Late Xherdan Shaqiri strike sees off Magpies
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 02/03/16 10:37pm
Newcastle United missed the chance to move out of the relegation zone after a late Xherdan Shaqiri strike saw them lose 1-0 to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday night.
The visitors needed just a point to climb above Norwich City and Sunderland and move out of the bottom three, but fell victim to a brilliant long-range goal from Shaqiri 10 minutes from time.
As a result, Stoke rise to seventh in the table and are on course to beat their best-ever Premier League finish of ninth, achieved last season, while Newcastle remain a point from safety in 19th, albeit with a game in hand on their rivals.
Newcastle arrived in the Potteries after some recent warm-weather training in La Manga, but without having played a match in 18 days since they were thrashed 5-1 at Chelsea.
However, despite that extra recovery time, Steve McClaren was without influential captain Fabricio Coloccini due a calf injury and with fellow central defender Chancel Mbemba also missing with an ankle problem, the visitors were forced to field a makeshift defence.
It was not all bad news though for the Magpies, who were able to welcome back Aleksandar Mitrovic to lead the line, not that you would have known from his meek display in the first half.
The Serbia forward was not the only player to fail to hit the heights in the opening 45 minutes, as the closet either side came to scoring was Shaqiri's low effort which Rob Elliot did well to clutch at his near post.
The home side - who lost right-back Bardsley to injury after 26 minutes - huffed and puffed before the break, but in windy conditions struggled to create any sustained pressure.
And it was more of the same in the second period as the contest appeared to be petering out into a draw - a result which would have suited Newcastle nicely - until Shaqiri's intervention.
The Swiss playmaker picked up possession some 25 yards from goal, before unleashing a powerful left-footed shot that flew past a flat-footed Elliot.
McClaren reacted by throwing on recent new signing Seydou Doumbia for the final five minutes and the Ivorian very nearly rescued a point for his side in stoppage time, but for a sensational reaction save from Jack Butland.
Stoke then saw Marko Arnautovic's brilliant volley hit the crossbar with the final kick of the match as they held on to record three league wins in a row.
Stoke: Butland (8), Bardsley (6), Cameron (7), Wollscheid (6), Pieters (7), Imbula (6), Whelan (6), Arnautovic (7), Shaqiri (8), Afellay (6), Walters (6)
Used subs: Muniesa (6), Diouf (6), Crouch (6)
Newcastle: Elliot (7), Janmaat (6), Lascelles (6), Taylor (6), Dummett (6), Colback (6), Shelvey (6), Sissoko (6), Wijnaldum (6), Gouffran (6), Mitrovic (5)
Used subs: Perez (6), Doumbia (7), Riviere (6)
Man of the match: Xherdan Shaqiri