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Stoke City emerged comfortable 2-0 winners against Middlesbrough on Saturday night at the Bet365 Stadium, leaving the Riverside outfit fighting to avoid relegation, as they fell into the drop zone following the result.
Two first half goals from the Potters’ most prolific attacker Marko Arnautovic were enough for them to walk away with three points, earning them a bump up to 9th place in the league standings.
In what was a scrappy encounter, Arnautovic provided the sparks, setting up winger Ramadan Sobhi, who missed the gilt-edged chance, before the Austrian himself opening the scoring in the 29th minute, with a sublime finish. It was the Austrian’s first home goal in eleven months, having scored his previous goal in front of his home fans back in April 2016. Shortly before the interval, he doubled his tally following some slack defending from Aitor Karanka’s side.
Boro struggled to get any momentum going forward post the restart and looked dour for most of the game, apart from a Ben Gibson strike, that was chalked off for offside. The win saw Stoke extend their unbeaten run at home to eight games. Here we take a look how the Potters’ players fared on the day:
Did not have anything to do in the goal for Stoke on the night. He will have seen very few nights more comfortable than this.
Returned to the side in place of Phil Bardsley and put in a good outing at right-back. Strong at the back, equally effective going forward, overall a solid display by the former Liverpool man.
The captain put in a typically robust display at the back, keeping the physical Rudy Gestede in check for almost the entire game. Booked for a foul on Adama Traore in the second period.
Looked comfortable alongside Shawcross for most of the game and completed all but one of his 29 attempted passes on the night. Was taken off late in the game after sustaining a knee injury that looked very nasty.
The Dutch left-back got forward on every occasion possible, but his end product was lacking most of the times. Defended decently against Traore.
Came into the side for Charlie Adam in the midfield and did a solid job of shielding his defence. Regained possession on quite a few occasions and distributed it forward very smartly.
Picked out Arnautovic with a great long ball from the halfway mark, which lead to the opener. His delivery from corners always posed a problem to the Boro defence.
Hit the post from six yards out early in the game. Linked up well with Arnautovic and was a constant menace for the Middlesbrough defence. Forced Valdes into two fine stops late in the game. Attempted and won most dribbles in the game.
Not one his most prolific displays, but the Welshman kept things ticking for Stoke in the middle. Linked up well with Sobhi and Arnautovic. Had a late penalty claim denied.
The Austrian was the difference on the night, scoring two very well-taken goals. In doing so, became the highest scoring Austrian in the Premier League with 21 strikes to his name.
The veteran striker continued to defy age and put in another strong showing, leading the line for Stoke. Set up Arnautovic’s second with a header. Was unbeatable in the air.
The 29-year old came on to replace the injured Arnautovic in the 64th minute, but failed to produce the quality of the man that he had replaced.
Replaced Peter Crouch with just over ten minutes left in the game. Still looks far away from his best.
Came in the 87th minute to replace the injured Martins Indi and slotted in the midfield with Cameron moving into defence. Not enough time to be rated.