Poor officiating costs City dear in final fixture out in Germany...
HAMBURGER SV 2 (Hunt 36, Arp 40)
STOKE CITY 1 (Pieters 15)
STOKE CITY were controversially beaten by Hamburger SV in the final fixture of the 2018 KiK-xxl Cup on Saturday afternoon.
Erik Pieters’ 15th minute goal had Gary Rowett’s men in the ascendency and seemingly on course for a deserved victory until the game was dramatically turned on its head during a mad four minute spell.
With just 10 minutes of the fixture remaining, the referee awarded the Bundesliga II side a dubious free-kick on the edge of the penalty box, having bizarrely accused Ryan Shawcross of bringing down Tatsuya Ito.
The experienced Aaron Hunt stepped up and curled a superb effort beyond the reach of Jakob Haugaard to draw the German side level, despite having rarely threated to breach the Potters backline.
The vocal, and well-travelled, Hamburg supporters had barely sat back down in their seats by the time the official once more aided their side - this time pointing to the spot following an undoubtedly clean Pieters challenge inside the 18-yard box.
Striker Fiete Arp dusted himself down and dispatched a typically cool German penalty into the bottom corner to edge his side in front.
It was a cruel and undeserved blow for Rowett’s troops, who had for long parts produced their most polished display of pre-season to date, only to be undone by some incredibly poor officiating.
Pieters’ early opener came during a heavy Stoke onslaught; one on which Spanish maestro Bojan was more often than not right at the heart of.
It was the former Barcelona man’s brilliant ball across which teed up Pieters’ goal, whilst his trickery and cleverness on the ball helped assist opportunities for the likes of Mortiz Bauer, Joe Allen and the impressive Peter Etebo.
City were forced to rue those missed chances as Hamburg stormed back late on, largely influenced by the referee, to claim a victory, and to set them on the road to lifting the cup, as a consequence of their triumph over SV Meppen an hour later.
STOKE CITY: Haugaard; Bauer, Shawcross (C), Martins Indi, Pieters; Cameron; Bojan, Allen, Etebo, Berahino (Diouf 28); Crouch (Afobe 15).