Hughes hails match-winner Bojan after his goal sinks Saints
Published 21/11/2015 | 18:06
Stoke boss Mark Hughes saluted Bojan Krkic for the moment of quality which sank Southampton 1-0 at St Mary's.
Former Barcelona forward Bojan tucked in his third goal of the season after 10 minutes before Stoke shut up shop to register a fourth straight clean sheet on the road.
Xherdan Shaqiri charged clear down the right and, as England full-back Ryan Bertrand ushered the Swiss winger inside, he played the ball across the 18-yard line to Marko Arnautovic.
The Austrian helped the ball out to overlapping full-back Erik Pieters, whose cross was flicked in at the near post by the unmarked Bojan.
"He has that ability to drift between defenders," said Hughes. "It wasn't an easy finish - it was a good ball in, but it still needed converting.
"That's the ability he has. You need that creative spark, players who can make a difference, and we have two or three of those now. If you get those players in the right areas and give them opportunities they will win you games. Bojan has won a game for us in terms of the goal he scored."
Hughes' side have lost just once on their travels this term, winning three and drawing three, and they moved to within a point of Saints after halting the hosts' six-match unbeaten streak in the Barclays Premier League.
They could, and probably should, have scored more with Shaqiri wasting two good chances to open his account for the club, Arnautovic twice firing narrowly wide and Ibrahim Afellay having an effort cleared off the line.
"I'm very pleased, I thought we restricted a very good side to few clear-cut opportunities," added Hughes.
"It was a very good away performance. That's one defeat in 10 and we are in decent shape."
Saints boss Ronald Koeman felt his side should have had a second-half penalty when Philipp Wollscheid felled Graziano Pelle, but referee Lee Mason saw nothing wrong.
"I don't understand that, from my distance it was very clear," said the Dutchman.
"I don't know why, from five yards away, the referee doesn't give a penalty."
Nevertheless it was a disappointing display from the hosts, summed up by Pelle slicing horribly wide with a couple of minutes to go.
"I didn't recognise my team, I didn't recognise the atmosphere in the stadium, maybe because of the circumstances of last week," Koeman added.
"To beat Stoke you need a high level and extra quality up front, but the whole performance was not the Southampton level. It was strange."