Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of sensational goals to earn Stoke City a 2-0 victory over struggling Hull City, who slipped into to the Premier League’s bottom three with defeat in front of a sparse crowd at the KCOM Stadium.
Switzerland international Shaqiri was instrumental in Stoke winning successive Premier League matches for the first time since March with a brilliant display, suggesting the Potters’ sluggish start to the season may be behind them.
The former Inter winger picked out the top corner with a 25-yard stunner in the 26th minute to put Mark Hughes’ team, unchanged from their first top-flight win in eight against Sunderland last weekend, on the path to victory.
Shaqiri added his second early in the second half via a sweetly struck free-kick, making him the first Stoke player to score two goals from outside the box in a single Premier League match.
Marko Arnautovic was unable to make the most of the Swiss’ creativity to add to the scoreline on two occasions, but there was no danger of them surrendering the three points that lift them out of the drop zone.
Hull ultimately paid the price for failing to contain the unstoppable Swiss despite welcoming captain Michael Dawson back from a medial knee ligament injury that had sidelined him since pre-season, with a fifth straight defeat sending them into the bottom three.
Stoke owed much of their strong start to Shaqiri. The Swiss miscued after latching onto Geoff Cameron a long pass from Geoff Cameron, before a delightful dinked ball of his own proved just too heavy for the in-form Joe Allen in the eighth minute.
Hull had an appeal for a penalty correctly ignored by referee Kevin Friend when Will Keane’s powerful shot was unintentionally handled by Ryan Shawcross, and, after Keane failed to find the target with a 22nd minute header, they were soon behind.
Shaqiri received the ball from Shawcross on the right wing and dribbled inside before bending a brilliant 25-yard strike into the top-right corner.
It could have been two in the 29th minute but Arnautovic was unable to supply the finishing touch to Shaqiri’s exceptional pass, his stabbed shot saved by David Marshall before the rebound went behind off Dawson.
Hull captain Dawson produced a brilliant challenge to deny Wilfried Bony his first goal for the club in first-half stoppage time.
Stoke’s second came just five minutes after the restart, when the hosts’ inability to clear the ball resulted in Curtis Davies sending Shaqiri to ground 20 yards out.
Shaqiri took the resultant free-kick himself, bending a brilliant effort over the wall and inside the bottom-right corner to Marshall’s dismay.
The mesmerising Swiss returned to his role of creator in the 65th minute, his raking cross-field pass picking out Arnautovic who was thwarted by the left hand of Marshall, though no corner was given.
Marshall denied Allen at his near post with 15 minutes remaining, but Hull were unable to avoid a sixth defeat in their last seven Premier League outings.
A fracas after the final whistle following a yellow card for Sam Clucas resulted in Stoke trio Phil Bardsley, Allen and Shaqiri also getting booked.
Key Opta stats:
– After conceding 31 goals in their previous 14 Premier League away trips, Stoke City kept their first clean sheet since December 2015.
– The Tigers have lost four successive home Premier League games for the first time in a single Premier League season.
– Hull have conceded as many goals in their last five Premier League games as their previous 16 in the competition (19 goals).
– Four of Xherdan Shaqiri’s six Premier League goals have been from outside the box, including each of the last four.