Stoke 0-1 Newcastle: Home fans turn on Mark Hughes after Ayoze Perez winner
Last Updated: 01/01/18 10:30pm
Mark Hughes left the field to cries for him to quit from his own supporters after Stoke slipped to a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle.
Ayoze Perez's winner 17 minutes from time meant 2018 kicked-off in the same vein as 2017 for Hughes, who now has overseen seven defeats in his last 10 matches.
Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow repelled a late charge from the hosts, including two wonderful saves from Mame Biram Diouf but Stoke rarely carried the quality needed to break through.
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.
Although Stoke do remain outside the relegation zone by two points, the owners - the Coates family, who have been reluctant to change managers in the past - have a big decision to make as it seems Hughes has lost the majority of the fans' backing.
Stoke: Butland (7), Pieters (6), Wimmer (6), Edwards (5), Zouma (5), Cameron (5), Allen (6), Adam (7), Shaqiri (3), Crouch (5), Choupo-Moting (7).
Subs: Diouf (6), Berahino (5)
Newcastle: Darlow (8), Clark (7), Lascelles (7), Manquillo (7), Yedlin (7), Atsu (6), Shelvey (7), Murphy (7), Diame (7), Ritchie (6), Perez (8)
Subs: Gayle (7), Hayden (6), Dummett (6)
Man of the Match: Ayoze Perez
Newcastle should have taken the lead midway through the first half when Ciaran Clark somehow sent the ball over the crossbar from close range after Perez's clever flick.
Stoke carried a greater threat after the break but only had an Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting shot, which Darlow tipped over the bar, to show for their efforts.
Mark Hughes made six changes after the humbling defeat at Chelsea with Erik Pieters, Kurt Zouma, Joe Allen, Xherdan Shaqiri, Peter Crouch and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting all returning. Rafa Benitez made five changes as Javier Manquillo, Jonjo Shelvey, Mo Diame, Jacob Murphy and Ayoze Perez all were handed starts.
Newcastle went close at the other end when Jonjo Shelvey sent a free-kick just wide, and the away end erupted 12 minutes later when Perez opened the scoring.
The striker met a fine cross by Jacob Murphy and shot past Butland.
It was Butland's opposite number Darlow who then came to the fore in the closing stages as Stoke went direct. Diouf's close-range acrobatic volley was saved one-handed by Darlow before he showed quick reactions again minutes later to deny Diouf, whose diving header was somehow blocked away.
Man of the match: Ayoze Perez
The match winner never gave Stoke's back four a moment's rest. He buzzed around the front-line, winning crucial free-kicks and laying foundations for attacks, especially in the first half when he linked brilliantly with Christian Atsu. His goal was a poacher's finish from close range and was a moment his endeavours deserved.
Mark Hughes: When asked if he fears the sack, he replied: "That's not my decision - I know what I feel. We've got a group of players that are playing with a lack of confidence. When that happens their ability to make key decisions becomes tough. We're not overwhelmed by it - we've got to make sure we pick ourselves up."
Rafa Benitez: "We started really well this season then we had a bad run and lost confidence - but still the team was working hard. It is one thing me as a manager saying the players are working and don't give up, but you could see it today. It was an example of a team working hard.
"Stoke worked so hard and it was difficult for us."
- Rafael Benitez has lost just one of his 13 managerial matches against Hughes in the Premier League (W6 D6 L1).
- Stoke have now conceded the first goal of the game on 15 occasions in the Premier League this season; more often than any other team.
- Perez's strike was Newcastle's first goal at the Bet 365 stadium since November 2012 (first goal in four visits).
- Stoke's total of 20 points after 22 games is their worst haul at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1984-85 (11 points).
Stoke face a trip to League Two side Coventry on Saturday in the FA Cup third round while Newcastle host Luton in the same competition.