- Alvaro Negredo scored his first PL goal since Jan 2014
- Xherdan Shaqiri bagged Stoke’s first free-kick goal in 3 years
Middlesbrough looks a proper Premier League side, but they could not complete the victory despite going ahead, as they were forced to share the points in a 1-1 draw at Riverside Stadium.
New signing Alvaro Negredo put the hosts in front early on, but a brilliant free-kick from Xherdan Shaqiri equalized in the second half.
The game was unsurprisingly physical in the opening 10 minutes, with both sides looking to out-thump each other with long balls and high pressure. Boro took advantage, as they plodded forward and opened the scoring on 11 minutes. A header into the area from Gaston Ramirez saw Negredo rise high above his mark and poke it home from close range.
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It wasn’t all peaches and sunshine early on for Boro despite their lead. New signing Marten De Roon limped off and was replaced in the 18th minute after crumpling to the ground under no contact. The Dutchman was replaced by Adam Forshaw.
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A crunching aerial challenge from Ramirez that left Erik Pieters in a heap saw the new player behavior rules enacted on Opening Day. Stoke goalkeeper Shay Given, unhappy with the incident, came rushing out of his goal and engaged referee Kevin Friend, who immediately produced a yellow card to the 40-year-old for dissent.
Ramirez nearly had a second for Middlesbrough moments later as he somehow burst through the Stoke back line all by himself in the 37th minute, shooting to the far post but just missing the target. Following that chance, Stoke began to pressure the Boro net. Ramirez was needed for a goal-line clearance in the 40th minute on a corner,
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Stoke looked second-best for much of the match, but as Marko Arnautovic began to look dangerous in spurts, Shaqiri followed suit and brought Stoke level. In the 67th minute, the Swedish star won a free-kick and deposited it in the back of the net with a fabulous curler from a tight angle.
Both sides proved up for a winner, but neither could find it. Stewart Downing looked lively for Middlesbrough, but a few solid deliveries wasn’t enough.