Middlesbrough 1-1 Stoke City

13 Aug

Gaston Ramirez

Ramirez was unlucky not to score in a first half dominated by Middlesbrough

Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick earned Stoke City a point as Middlesbrough were denied a deserved victory on their return to the Premier League.

Boro went ahead when two of 10 signings made since winning promotion combined – Alvaro Negredo bundling in Gaston Ramirez’s headed cut-back.

Ramirez hit the post with a low shot and struck the bar directly from a corner as Boro continued strongly.

But Shaqiri’s effort went in off the upright to level with 25 minutes left.

The Switzerland international’s left-footed strike had too much curl and power for Boro’s debutant keeper Victor Valdes – formerly of Barcelona and Manchester United – who could only palm on to the post and in.

Shaqiri had been quiet until that point – Boro dominated the first half entirely – and although Stoke improved after the break their equaliser came through their only shot on target, with Marko Arnautovic and Bojan also disappointing in attack.

How did the new faces do?

There were five competitive debuts for Middlesbrough, including the impressive Ramirez, who joined on a free transfer after a successful loan spell last season.

The 10 signings Boro have made is more than any other Premier League side and Negredo’s goal was a promising sign of what might come.

The Spaniard rose strongly to force the ball over the line under pressure from the Stoke defence – a combination of head and shoulder proving enough to beat the 40-year-old Shay Given.

But Boro face losing £11.75m midfielder Marten de Roon to injury after the Belgian was forced off with an apparent hamstring problem early in the first half.

There were a few nervy moments for Valdes, who was particularly exposed when mis-directing a punched clearance into Negredo’s face under pressure, with Ramirez having to clear from under his own crossbar.

Middlesbrough’s success last season was built on a solid defence that saw them concede just eight goals at home all season and Antonio Barragan slotted in comfortably alongside Ben Gibson at centre-back with Daniel Ayala out injured.

Middlesbrough attacking down the left<!–

Many of Middlesbrough’s best moves came down the left, where left-back George Friend was highly effective in overlapping beyond winger Stewart Downing. Friend, 28, was captain in the absence of Daniel Ayala, and signed a new four-year contract before the game

Mark Hughes’ Stoke were far less busy in the transfer market.

Wales midfielder Joe Allen did join from Liverpool after being named in the Euro 2016 team of the tournament, and Egyptian winger Ramadan Sobhi from Al Ahly came in for a fee that could rise to £5m.

But Allen was named on the bench and had little impact after coming on with just over 10 minutes to play, while Sobhi was not in the squad.

Better injury news for Stoke

Back-up goalkeeper Given started for the Potters because England keeper Jack Butland suffered an ankle injury in training before today’s game.

Butland hurt the same ankle he broke when playing in the 3-2 friendly win over Germany in March, but a scan has shown the injury is not serious.

Before kick-off he tweeted: “Great news from my scans, ankle is solid but I’ve damaged some scar tissue which is giving me the pain, will settle down quick, back soon.”

And speaking after the game, Stoke boss Mark Hughes said Butland would be out for a “couple of weeks rather than anything more sinister”.

Man of the match – Gaston Ramirez (Middlesbrough)

Ramirez went some way towards proving he can repeat his excellent form from last season with a lively and inventive display.

The Uruguayan produced some lovely touches, linked up with Negredo well, and had his low driven shot found the inside rather than the outside of the post, Boro may well have been celebrating victory in the top flight for the first time since 2009.

Gaston Ramirez<!–

Ramirez scored seven goals and provided four assists after joining Boro on loan from Southampton in the second half of last season

What they said

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Boro handled pressure well – Karanka

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka: “We played an amazing game. Three months ago we were in the Championship and played today against a team that has finished ninth in the Premier League in the last three seasons.

“For us it was a difficult test, a good test, with all the pressure of the first game in the Premier League, but I’m really pleased.

“Alvaro and Gaston are the reflection of the team. It’s easier to play the way they have played, as individuals, when you know how important the team is for everyone.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes: “I thought we acquitted ourselves well and tried to create things. We finished strongly so that’s encouraging. On another day with a little more care we could have scored more goals.

“Overall we restricted them as a home side. We calmed the crowd and didn’t allow Middlesbrough to build any momentum.

“Quite clearly Joe Allen is outstanding and he’ll be a mainstay of this side for a long time. He can build his career here now.”

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Stoke’s Hughes happy with draw at Boro

The stats you need to know

  • Negredo has now scored with his first shot on target in the Premier League for both Man City and Middlesbrough.
  • Shaqiri scored Stoke’s first direct free-kick goal in the Premier League since October 2013 (Marko Arnautovic vs Man Utd).
  • Stoke are winless in their last seven Premier League season openers, drawing three and losing four.
  • Stoke have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 11 Premier League games; only in August 2012 have they endured a longer run without one (12 games).
  • Given is the third oldest player to appear in the opening matchday of a Premier League season (40y 115d), after Brad Friedel (41y 92d) and Teddy Sheringham (40y 139d).

Live Text

Match ends, Middlesbrough 1, Stoke City 1.

Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 1, Stoke City 1.

Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card.

Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Antonio Barragán (Middlesbrough).

Erik Pieters (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough).

Adam Forshaw (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Giannelli Imbula (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Adam Forshaw (Middlesbrough).

Attempt saved. Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough) header from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Albert Adomah with a cross.

Foul by Jonathan Walters (Stoke City).

Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Middlesbrough. David Nugent replaces Gastón Ramírez.

Attempt missed. Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right misses to the right. Assisted by Stewart Downing with a cross.

Giannelli Imbula (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).

Offside, Stoke City. Erik Pieters tries a through ball, but Marko Arnautovic is caught offside.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Gastón Ramírez (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

Philipp Wollscheid (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Philipp Wollscheid (Stoke City).

Gastón Ramírez (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Jonathan Walters (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Antonio Barragán (Middlesbrough).

Joe Allen (Stoke City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Adam Forshaw (Middlesbrough).

Substitution, Stoke City. Joe Allen replaces Bojan.

Foul by Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City).

Álvaro Negredo (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Philipp Wollscheid (Stoke City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Phil Bardsley with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by George Friend.

Attempt missed. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high.

Attempt blocked. Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Giannelli Imbula.

Attempt missed. Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Stewart Downing with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Glenn Whelan.

Attempt blocked. Nsue (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Gastón Ramírez.

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Philipp Wollscheid.

Substitution, Stoke City. Jonathan Walters replaces Mame Biram Diouf.

Goal! Middlesbrough 1, Stoke City 1. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City) from a free kick with a left footed shot to the bottom right corner.


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