MAME DIOUF’S stunning late header secured his side a third successive ninth place finish after the Potters came from behind to stun Europa League hopefuls West Ham United in front of the live television cameras on Sunday afternoon.
The Senegalese international stepped off the bench and made arguably his most telling contribution of the campaign as he steered home Charlie Adam’s superb corner two minutes from time to send the City faithful into delirium
The entertaining affair had looked likely to end in stalemate as the hosts levelled matters thanks to Giannelli Imbula’s superb long-distance effort after Hammers winger Michail Antonio had opened the scoring midway through the first-half.
Slaven Bilic will undoubtedly feel aggrieved that his players weren’t able to build upon their one-goal advantage during what was a dominating first 45 minutes.
Striker Diafra Sakho was guilty of spurning two chances when well positioned prior to the break, whilst the impressive Shay Given produced a stunning save to deny him shortly after the interval after getting down quickly to his right and denying the frontman.
The Republic of Ireland international did himself absolutely no harm of edging back in front of West Ham stopper Darren Randolph in the stakes for the coveted number one jersey at the European Championships.
He made an even greater contribution when, after Imbula’s superb second goal for the Club, he denied Emmanuel Emenike, on two occasions, from point-blank range before Glenn Whelan acrobatically hacked the ball off the line minutes later.
You could sense there would be a further twist to the tale late on, as both sides, for different reasons, pushed forward in a bid to claim the additional two points on offer.
Bojan maybe should have pulled the trigger when he was well-positioned whilst Scotland international Adam very nearly replicated his sensational strike against Chelsea last term with an identical effort that forced Randolph into action.
However, it was Diouf who made the greatest contribution of the afternoon when he rose highest and planted Adam’s superb corner powerfully above Randolph and into the roof of the net, to ensure a magical end to the campaign.