Xherdan Shaqiri marked a fantastic individual display with a thunderous long-range effort as Stoke City all but sealed their Premier League status for another season with a 3-1 victory over Hull City.
Stoke took the lead in the sixth minute thanks to a fierce Marko Arnautovic strike but struggled to build on it as Mark Hughes’ men sought to end a run of four consecutive defeats.
Hull, without an away win under Marco Silva, responded well and spurned a number of chances to level in an entertaining first half at the bet365 Stadium.
Harry Maguire eventually took advantage of some poor Stoke defending at a corner to level matters in the 51st minute.
The visitors’ momentum was checked, though, as Hughes’ decision to send on Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters paid dividends when the latter set up the former England striker to make it 2-1 a quarter of an hour later.
Lee Grant made a crucial save to deny Kamil Grosicki an equaliser and Walters struck the woodwork but Shaqiri put the game to bed with a marvellous swerving effort into the top-left corner from 30 yards.
5 – Each of Xherdan Shaqiri’s last five Premier League goals have been from outside the box. Wallop.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 15, 2017
The win sends Stoke 11 points clear of the bottom three, while 17th-placed Hull remain just two points above the drop zone with five games left.
Stoke were rewarded for a positive start with Arnautovic cutting onto his right foot after being played in by Shaqiri and lashing in off the underside of the crossbar.
The same pair combined again when Arnautovic spurned a chance to make it 2-0 as he volleyed Shaqiri’s clever chipped pass over.
Arnautovic, Saido Berahino and Shaqiri continued to cause Hull problems but Stoke were almost punished for failing to take their chances, Oumar Niasse unable to get what would have been a decisive touch on Sam Clucas’ flick on from Lazar Markovic’s cross.
Markovic was to the fore again when he was denied an equaliser by a fine save from Grant after latching onto a magnificent diagonal ball from Maguire.
An excellent left-wing cross from Andrew Robertson went unrewarded – Markovic unable to divert the ball home – before Arnautovic let another opportunity go begging by firing across the face of goal from a clever Glen Johnson pass.
But the equaliser Hull deserved arrived just six minutes after the restart. Stoke failed to deal with Clucas’ volleyed ball into the box from a short corner and, after Markovic saw his initial effort blocked, Maguire bundled in off the post.
Hull were grateful for the reflexes of Eldin Jakupovic, who pulled off a wonderful diving save to keep out Walters’ stooping header, for preserving parity with Crouch unable to convert on the rebound.
Niasse curled high and wide after an ill-advised clearance from Erik Pieters, and he paid the price for his profligacy as Stoke’s substitutes combined.
Walters did well to control a superb long ball from Arnautovic and the Republic of Ireland international checked inside before crossing for Crouch to head into the bottom-left corner.
Grant performed heroics to thwart Grosicki after the Pole turned Ryan Shawcross before Walters hit the inside of the post, but it was Shaqiri who had a sensational final say 10 minutes from time.
80- WHAT A HIT SON, WHAT A HIT! pic.twitter.com/mW5I9NRexM
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) April 15, 2017
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