Hughes: Stoke making strides

Mark Hughes has urged Stoke to push on in the Premier League after they stunned Manchester City 1-0 at the Etihad.

Last Updated: 31/08/14 at 08:30 Post Comment

Hughes: Celebrates win with Peter Crouch

Hughes: Celebrates win with Peter Crouch

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The Potters lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa and drew 1-1 away to 10-man Hull City in their first two games of the 2014/15 campaign, having ended last season impressively on their way to a ninth-placed finish.

However, their unspectacular start was emphatically ended at the Etihad Stadium as a rock-solid defensive display coupled with Mame Biram Diouf's outstanding solo breakaway goal secured a narrow victory over the champions.

Hughes, manager of Manchester City from 2008 to 2009, told Sky Sports afterwards: "I’m pleased for my club because we hadn’t started as brightly as I’d hoped.

"We finished last year really strong and maybe it was unrealistic to think that we’d hit those heights almost immediately.

"It’ll take time, as everybody’s finding - we're all at different levels of form and fitness, I feel. We're the same. But this big performance and result will get our season up and running."

Asked how he masterminded the result, he responded: "We had a gameplan today and as with all gameplans, you have to commit to it and you have to make it work and that’s what we did today.

"I thought we were excellent, in terms of our understanding of what was required against an outstanding team - everyone acknowledges that - so you have to do everything correctly for the full 90 minutes.

"That’s what we did. We were resolute, got plenty of people behind the ball, made it difficult for them, didn’t allow them to play too many balls into key positions and were always a threat on the break. So we’re delighted with the performance and most importantly, the result.

"The last three games we’ve played against them, we’ve only conceded one goal and when you look at their record here, in most games they’re looking to score two, three or four goals. We restricted them to very few chances today. That’s credit to our organisation, and credit to our lads for making it work."

On Diouf's impressive first goal for Stoke, Hughes added: "We’re delighted for Mame because it’s always important when you come to a new club, especially when you’re a striker. You want to get up and running as early as you can in terms of goalscoring. He’s probably been a little bit hard on himself in a couple of the games he’s played in up until this point, but it was a fantastic goal.

"He took it from the edge of his own box and ran all the way through. It was a great goal for him and great for us, but it wasn’t anything we didn’t deserve. I felt by nature of the commitment to what we were trying to do that we deserved that win."

Diouf had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Lee Mason in the first half, and Hughes admitted: "If we hadn’t won, I would have been talking about that probably! I thought Mame had initially been fouled on the edge of the box, but whether or not Lee Mason had played the advantage, I don’t know.

"But we didn’t particularly get any, because Mame has knocked the ball past Kolarov and he’s just clipped his foot and he’s gone over. In my view, it was a penalty but not to worry because it didn’t matter! But it might have been different if we hadn’t got a positive result today."

Peter Odemwingie had to be stretchered off having come off the bench for the second half. Hughes said: "Peter has twisted his knee - we’re hopeful that it’s not too serious, although he's very sore. It’ll probably need a couple more days before we know the extent of the injury."

A smash and grab victory, nothing more, Sparkie is good at talking himself up isn't he
- shea666

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