STOKE CITY’S New Year celebrations fizzled out before they had even began as Newcastle United claimed maximum spoils at the bet365 Stadium on Monday afternoon.
It proved to be a day to forget for Mark Hughes and his squad as three precious points went a begging as the visitors had Ayoze Perez to thank for what could be a pivotal victory.
The talented playmaker swept home from close range midway through the second half following superb work on the right flank from Jacob Murphy.
The Potters will undoubtedly feel aggrieved not to have secured at least a point having spurned several glorious opportunities to score before and after Perez’s match-winning strike.
Charlie Adam went agonisingly close with a thumping free-kick that Karl Darlow did well to palm around the post, before the stopper produced an even better save to thwart man of the match Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Substitute Mame Diouf also went close, seeing a point-blank header tremendously saved by Darlow, before the Senegalese scuffed an effort wide of the target in stoppage time after freeing himself of his marker inside the penalty area.
Prior to kick-off Hughes stuck to his pre-match promise of making changes, as he welcomed six players back into his line-up after opting to switch things around at Stamford Bridge 48 hours earlier.
The likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Joe Allen and Peter Crouch all returned as did Kurt Zouma, who was ineligible to feature against the champions on Saturday, and the fit again Erik Pieters.
Still though, despite their inclusions, it proved to be another frustrating day in North Staffordshire as the Magpies took the spoils to elevate themselves up and above the Potters in the Premier league table.