Mark Hughes on brink as Newcastle’s Ayoze Pérez sinks struggling Stoke

first_imgAs the Newcastle fans enjoyed some fun at Hughes’s expense by chanting that the Stoke manager would be “sacked in the morning”, the home team poured forward in search of an equaliser. Diouf saw his acrobatic left-foot volley superbly kept out by Darlow, who then made an even better save from the same player after Crouch had knocked down Charlie Adam’s deep cross, leaving Hughes holding his head in despair.Benítez, in contrast, headed back to the north-east with a spring in his step. Newcastle are up to 13th in the table after collecting seven points from four matches over the festive period, the first of them the 3-2 win at West Ham on 23 December which means they have achieved back-to-back Premier League away wins for the first time since November 2014.“We would have taken what we have got if we had been offered it before Christmas,” Benítez said. “I have been telling everyone that the team have not given up and I am pleased you have been able to see this on the pitch.” Share on LinkedIn Share on Messenger Read more Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Reuse this content Topics Share via Email Mark Hughes storms out of press conference after Stoke lose to Newcastle This was a fifth league defeat in seven matches and leaves Stoke only two points and two places above the relegation zone, with the crucial win over West Bromwich Albion nine days ago already seeming a distant memory. The Stoke board have stayed loyal to Hughes up until now, refusing to give in to growing unrest among the supporters, yet this strayed into the territory of being a defeat too many, not least because of what had happened at Stamford Bridge two days earlier.By in effect sacrificing that game against Chelsea, which Stoke lost 5-0, Hughes put himself under the spotlight and left himself open to the criticism that followed at the end of this defeat. He was unrepentant afterwards, insisting he would do the same thing all over again, yet deep down Hughes must have known that only a victory over Newcastle would have provided vindication for all those changes in west London.Erik Pieters, Joe Allen, Xherdan Shaqiri, Maxim Choupo-Moting and Peter Crouch all came back into the team against Newcastle, along with Kurt Zouma, who was unable to play against his parent club, yet the outcome, if not the scoreline, was the same as Stoke slumped to a defeat that would have been hard to stomach at any time of the season.Although Karl Darlow made some excellent saves for Newcastle, in particular the two instinctive stops that denied Mame Diouf in the final 10 minutes, Stoke were flat for long periods and looked devoid of ideas. Newcastle had the better opportunities in the first half, when Christian Atsu was denied by Jack Butland, and Ciaran Clark filed a contender for miss of the season, and the visiting side looked more and more dangerous on the counterattack in the second half.Dwight Gayle, who had started on the bench as Rafael Benítez made five changes to the side who were held to a goalless draw by Brighton on Saturday, had a penalty shout turned down shortly before Pérez’s goal, when the referee waved away Newcastle’s appeals after Zouma bundled into the striker.Three minutes later Newcastle took the lead with a goal that could not have been more simple. Jacob Murphy accepted the invitation to run into the space that opened up for him on the Stoke left, where Hughes had been forced to withdraw the injured Pieters, and delivered a low centre that Pérez, arriving just behind Geoff Cameron, tucked away from six yards out.center_img match reports Read more Newcastle United Share on Pinterest Mark Hughes is on the brink once again after his controversial decision to name a weakened team at Chelsea badly backfired with defeat 48 hours later at the hands of a Newcastle United side who had won only one of their previous 12 matches. Ayoze Pérez scored the goal that piled the pressure on the Stoke manager and prompted loud calls from some of their supporters for the Welshman to be sacked.Peter Coates was there to witness it all unfold and it was tempting to wonder what was going through the Stoke chairman’s mind when those “Hughes Out” chants broke out in the Boothen end during the dying moments of the game. Boos greeted the final whistle seconds later and the manager cut a forlorn figure as he turned on his heel and made his way along the touchline, drenched and dismayed. Premier League Share on WhatsApp Ragnar Klavan’s injury-time goal clinches dramatic Liverpool victory Stoke Citylast_img

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