MARK HUGHES won the battle of former Manchester United team-mates as his Stoke side defeated Mike Phelan’s struggling Tigers at the KC Stadium.
Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri gave the Potters a first-half lead and quickly added to it after the break to leave Hull in deep trouble after a sixth defeat in their last seven Premier League games.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Hull boss Mike Phelan.
“First half really we weren’t proactive in passing the ball well and off the ball and we came unstuck to an exceptional first goal from a quality player, who’s capable of doing these things.”
There was little for Hull fans to celebrate apart from the return of club captain Michael Dawson.
The former England central defender had not played since last season’s play-off final win against Sheffield Wednesday after damaging knee ligaments in pre-season training. A full 90 minutes for the development side against Leeds proved his fitness and Dawson resumed against Stoke.
“Michael Dawson’s the right character to have around,” added Phelan.
“He’s been there, seen it and done it. It was good. His first 90 minutes. So that was one pleasing aspect.”
Sam Clucas deputised at left-back for Scotland international Andrew Robertson, who has been ruled out for up to eight weeks with a calf injury, and David Meyler was brought in to provide bite in midfield.
Hull went into the game on the back of a humiliating defeat at Bournemouth and a run which had brought just one point from their previous six Premier League games, while the visitors were aiming for a win which would lift them out of the bottom three.
Stoke were unchanged from the side which brought them their first victory of the season against Sunderland the previous week, right-back Phil Bardsley having overcome a hamstring problem. Their attack was led by Manchester City loanee Wilfried Bony, who had failed to score in his first six games for the Potters.
After a quiet start, Hull’s Will Keane produced a shot on the turn from their first corner but appeals for hands went unpunished as the ball struck Ryan Shawcross before being cleared.
However, Stoke took a 26th-minute lead when Shaqiri saw his inswinging corner punched away by David Marshall before the ball was worked back across to him to cut inside and curl it inside the near post from 24 yards.
Shaqiri almost turned provider as his through ball was controlled by Marko Arnautovic only for Marshall to spread himself and block the shot with his right foot, the ball ballooning back off Dawson for a corner.
Bony looked set to make it 2-0 in stoppage time when he was fed into the area by Shaqiri but Dawson got across to make a great sliding tackle, putting the ball out for a corner.
Shaqiri soon struck after the break, however, winning a free-kick off Curtis Davies 24 yards out and curling the ball over the five-man wall inside Marshall’s left-hand post in the 50th minute.
Meyler was sacrificed for striker Abel Hernandez as Hull sought a way back into the match.
Joe Allen tested Marshall from the corner of the area and, at the other end, Hull finally got a shot on target through Hernandez.
Shaqiri then broke down a Tigers attack, swept a crossfield pass to Arnautovic, who held off Ahmed Elmohamady before striking the ball wide across the face of goal.
Harry Maguire and Adama Diomande replaced Tom Huddlestone and Keane in the 68th minute before Stoke chief Hughes replaced Bony with Mame Diouf.
Marshall blocked from Allen to prevent it becoming 3-0 but there was little response from Phelan’s men, who, by now, were employing a three-man defence.
Hernandez did force home from close range but Diomande had been flagged for offside as he turned a cross from Robert Snodgrass back across goal.
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