Bojan’s 10th minute opener was all the visitors needed to halt Southampton’s unbeaten run – in an effective away display at St. Mary’s.
Southampton‘s unbeaten run of eleven matches across all competitions, was ended by Mark Hughes‘ Stoke City side – who were defensively disclipined and constantly provided a counter-attacking threat in the final third.
Bojan Krkić scored the game’s only goal after just ten minutes, but it could have been more from the visitors after an early start to proceedings.
Intriguing start in opening exchanges
Before the opener, Dušan Tadić was unlucky to see his effort narrowly flash wide of Jack Butland‘s far post. A goalmouth scramble ensued in the box as Stoke struggled to clear their lines, and the Serbian creative midfielder pounced on the danger but was unable to break the deadlock.
The build-up to the goal itself was well worked by Stoke in fairness to them, after Xherdan Shaqiri got on the ball from the right-hand side, drove towards the edge of the box and pulled two defenders out of position to try and contain his threat.
Stoke catch Saints on the break
The ball was quickly shifted towards the left, with Erik Pieters swinging in a teasing ball into the area itself. Jose Fonté was caught static and Bojan made the Portuguese centre-back pay with a clinical flick on, giving goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg no chance.
Shaqiri almost made it two in six minutes, but for a good reaction stop by Stekelenburg. Marko Arnautovic‘s long-ball forward found Bojan, who slipped through an inviting ball towards Shaqiri. His low effort seemed destined for the bottom corner, but Stekelenburg had other ideas and parried the danger.
Potters picked their moments to get forward
Chances came at a premium for the rest of the first-half, with Southampton defensively looking vulnerable when trying to deal with the counter-attack.
Tadić fired over the crossbar before the interval, then defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama saw his effort flash narrowly wide as the second 45 began and the hosts went in search of an equaliser.
Ironic jeers reverberated around the stadium when Arnautovic fired high and wide with a golden opportunity to make it two, with only the goalkeeper to beat. But you could definitely tell that the home supporters were getting edgy, as they had to make the most of their half-chances.
With time ticking down on the affair, Graziano Pellé was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty-kick after a high foot from Philipp Wollscheid – who missed the ball completely – was waved play on somehow by the referee. After this, you could tell it wasn’t going to be Southampton’s day.
Ibrahim Afellay came close to sealing the three points, and although it was a narrow victory, it was a deserved one too for the visitors. They started brightly, hit Southampton on the counter-attack and Ronald Koeman‘s men struggled to get going in the early exchanges.
As a consequence, The Saints‘ unbeaten run has been ended AND they miss out on the chance to leapfrog Everton, West Ham and Tottenham into fifth place – whilst Stoke move up to 11th after an effective away display, even though they should have scored a few more of their chances.