A piece of ingenuity from Bojan Krkic was enough for Stoke City to see off Southampton 1-0 in Saturday’s Premier League encounter.
The impressive Bojan caught the hosts’ defence sleeping to cleverly flick home Erik Pieters’ cross in the first half.
Xherdan Shaqiri also missed an excellent chance in each half as Stoke sought a second goal to make sure of the points.
But the misses made little difference as Stoke celebrated a first victory at St Mary’s Stadium.
Mark Hughes’ side have now lost just once in seven league outings, and have registered back-to-back wins after surprising champions Chelsea before the international break.
Southampton finished the second half strongly, and Graziano Pelle had strong claims for a penalty turned down in the closing stages as Ronald Koeman’s side saw a six-match unbeaten league run come to an end.
The home side had the first effort of note when Dusan Tadic flashed a shot on the turn wide of the right-hand post.
But it was Stoke who went in front in the 10th minute.
The ball was worked left to Erik Pieters – named in an unchanged line-up despite breaking his nose against Chelsea – and his teasing cross was brilliantly flicked home at the near post by Bojan.
It could have been 2-0 when an excellent counter-attack led to Bojan slipping in Shaqiri, who shot straight at Maarten Stekelenburg when one-on-one.
At the other end Southampton had tentative claims for a penalty when Philipp Wollscheid tugged Pelle to ground, before Tadic shot over the crossbar having surged from his own half in a swift counter-attack.
Stoke remained the more threatening side after the break, though, and Shaqiri blazed wastefully over on his favoured left foot after good work from Bojan and Marko Arnautovic.
But Southampton started to apply some pressure of their own and Tadic shanked wide when in a promising position on the left of the area.
Victor Wanyama, back from suspension in one of three Southampton changes, then bent an effort narrowly wide on the hour.
Shortly after Shane Long – making his first Southampton appearance since September having picked up an ankle injury playing for Republic of Ireland – appealed for a penalty after being shoulder charged by Arnautovic, but referee Lee Mason deemed it a fair challenge.
As Southampton pushed men forward, Stoke almost capitalised on the counter when Glen Johnson fed Arnautovic but the forward fired a left-foot shot high and wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Substitute Ibrahim Afellay then dragged a shot wide for Stoke, before the visitors were handed a reprieve in the closing stages when Wollscheid appeared to catch Pelle in the air when attempting to clear the ball in the area.
There was almost more misery for Southampton from another swift Stoke break in the closing stages, but Ryan Bertrand made a superb goalline clearance from Afellay’s side-footed effort.
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