Stoke 0 Toon 1

Last updated : 03 January 2018 By Footy Mad - Editor

Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo, Shelvey, Diamé, Murphy (Dummett 82), Atsu (Gayle 64), Ritchie, Pérez (Hayden 90).
Subs: Joselu, Merino, Haidara, Woodman

Image result for stoke city 0 newcastle united 1Ayoze Perez gave Newcastle a narrow victory over fellow Premier League strugglers Stoke to put more pressure on under-fire Stoke manager Mark Hughes.

Hughes made six changes to the side thrashed 5-0 by Chelsea on Saturday, but his gamble failed to pay off as his side delivered another lacklustre performance.

Christian Atsu missed a host of chances for the visitors in the first half and Ciaran Clark fired over from two yards before Perez gave Newcastle the lead with a neat finish from Jacob Murphy's cross.

Newcastle have secured successive Premier League away wins for the first time since November 2014 and move up to 13th in the table, while Stoke fall to 16th.

Before Monday's game Mark Hughes said changes to his team were "necessary" during a hectic winter period.

In a must-win match he brought back the attacking flair of Joe Allen, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Xherdan Shaqiri and would have expected a response from his players.

But it will be Hughes' counterpart Rafael Benitez who will take the plaudits after his five changes saw a goal-shy side edge the crucial game.

Stoke have won just one of the past seven matches in the Premier League

Hughes rested a number of key players against Chelsea with the home game against relegation rivals Newcastle in mind - a decision which has been heavily criticised.

And after a fifth defeat in seven matches, the Stoke boss has invited yet more scrutiny over his team selection.

With his side perched precariously on the edge of the relegation zone it was a calculated risk to put all his eggs in one basket, but it didn't pay off.

Erik Pieters returned from injury and with Kurt Zouma available for selection, the Potter's leaky defence - which has conceded a league-high 47 goals and only kept two clean sheets this season - looked more assured.

They were helped, until the 73rd-minute, by the visitors' lack of confidence in front of goal but Newcastle asked questions throughout and when the inevitable happened, Stoke had little response.

There was a goalmouth scramble at the end of the game when Mame Biram Diouf twice failed to find the back of the net, and they were denied by a good performance in goal from Karl Darlow, but their rested players injected little attacking intent.

Newcastle found plenty of space down the right-hand side against Stoke with more than 50% of their play taking place in this area

Newcastle had failed to score in four of their previous five matches, but their pacey counter-attack troubled Stoke from the outset.

Questions were asked when Atsu started the game alongside Ayoze Perez but the two combined well all afternoon.

Atsu had his first chance of the game when goalscorer Perez, brought into the side by Benitez after the 0-0 draw against Brighton, made a nice run through the middle and fed the Ghanaian, who saw his shot deflected by Zouma.

Winger Atsu could have had another when he picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box, but drove his strike over the bar before sailing a third chance straight into the hands of Jack Butland - all inside the first 15 minutes.

In a dominant first half, Newcastle's most clear-cut chance came when Perez flicked on a corner to Clark, who clumsily thumped the ball over the bar.

And while there were still rumbles in the crowd over the sale of the club, the fans were left celebrating when a focused performance from the players on the pitch culminated in Perez's goal and three vital points.