XHERDAN SHAQIRI’S sensational strike eight minutes from time was enough to secure his side a third successive Barclays Premier League triumph on Wednesday evening.
The match, which was played in blustery conditions, looked to be heading towards stalemate before the Swiss star let rip a thunderous effort from 25-yards.
The finish was undoubtedly worthy of its match-winning status, although the visitors may feel hard done to having defended valiantly throughout the proceedings.
Chances were few and far between for the best part, although the game did burst into life late on following Shaqiri’s telling contribution.
Giannelli Imbula enjoyed another solid performance for his new Club and went agonisingly close to doubling his goal-tally when he burst forward following good work from Shaqiri and curled an acute effort inches wide.
At the other end, Jack Butland, who was ushering an unchanged side from the one that reigned supreme against Aston Villa four days earlier, produced arguably the save of the season to thwart Magpies substitute Seydou Doumbia.
The former CSKA Moscow ace, who arrived at St James’ Park in January, watched in sheer disbelief as the England stopper somehow finger-tipped his thumping effort from close range deep into stoppage time.
The drama didn’t end there though as just moments later a Potters counter-attack culminated in Imbula dinking a delightful ball out-wide to Marko Arnautovic, he caught hold of the ball with real aplomb and rattled the woodwork.
It certainly wasn’t the most entertaining spectacle of the season but the grand stand finish elevated Mark Hughes’ side up into seventh place in the table and set up this weekend’s mouth-watering trip to Stamford Bridge perfectly.
There was one sour note during the night however, as Phil Bardsley limped out of action midway through the first period adding to the Welshman’s defensive injury problems.