Erik Pieters shouldered the blame for Stoke City’s 2-1 defeat at home to Chelsea, a result Mark Hughes believes guarantees the Blues the Premier League title.
A wayward pass from Pieters gifted Chelsea a free-kick in the closing stages, and when he failed to clear David Luiz’s header from the resulting set-piece, Gary Cahill struck an 87th-minute winner.
The Dutchman owned up to his errors and was disappointed it cost Stoke a point he felt they deserved.
“I think I have to put my hand up because I made a mistake with that pass to Lee,” said Pieters in a post-match interview.
“To be honest I was in a bit in doubt because I thought he [goalkeeper Lee Grant] came out, but it was a poor pass from me.
“It’s hard to take because we played well, we created some chances as well and I think we should have got a point.”
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) March 18, 2017
The result sent Chelsea 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League, and Mark Hughes does not think anyone will catch Antonio Conte’s men.
“It is Chelsea’s title now and you could see from their celebrations we ran them close,” Hughes said in quotes reported by the BBC.
“We kept on going, kept on moving the ball but there was a suggestion for a red card for our penalty. It was a little bit feisty, we gave everything and I cannot criticise our players.
“We have given a good account against the champions elect.”
However, a disallowed goal for Bruno Martins Indi after Saido Berahino – standing in an offside position – shoved Cesar Azpilicueta to ground still rankled with Hughes.
He said: “We had a goal disallowed and the player made a meal of the slight push. He was not affecting Bruno Martins Indi getting to the ball.”
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