Shaqiri magic sees Stoke City save point from buoyant Middlesbrough

Shaqiri magic sees Stoke City save point from buoyant Middlesbrough
Photo: Jonny Walsh / VAVEL
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Stoke City
Middlesbrough: Valdes; Nsue, Barragan, Gibson, Friend; De Roon (Forshaw, min. 19), Clayton; Adomah, Ramirez (Nugent, min. 87), Downing; Negredo.
Stoke City: Given; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Imbula, Shaqiri, Bojan (Allen, min. 78), Arnautovic; Diouf (Walters, min. 69).
SCORE: 1-0, min. 11, Negredo. 1-1, min. 67, Shaqiri.
REFEREE: Kevin Friend (ENG). Booked: Shawcross (min. 21), Downing (min. 29), Given (min. 31), Ramirez (min. 31), Bardsley (min. 48), Wollscheid (min. 83), Forshaw (min. 90+1), Arnautovic (min. 90+4).

That'll be it from me today - I hope you've enjoyed the game as much as I have, as it really was a good one. Boro travel to Sunderland next, while Stoke have a fairly simple game at home to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City. Until the next one, I've been Sam France, and you've been a delight.

The only real downside for either manager - aside from a slight lack of quality on the final ball - is the injury to Marten de Roon, who looked  tenacious off the ball and skilful on it before he was forced off by injury. Aitor Karanka will hope that it isn't too serious.

Think both managers will be happy with that result. Middlesbrough looked comfortable in their new surroundings and definitely matched what is a good Stoke City side, while Mark Hughes said before the game that a trip to a promoted team is never easy on the opening day. A point each after a very entertaining game of football, a debut goal for Negredo and a piece of magic from Shaqiri - Premier League, we have missed you.

Full-time: Middlesbrough 1-1 Stoke City

90+5' The free kick is defended well, and it is behind for a goal kick.

90+4' Arnautovic wins a free kick in a cracking position on the left for a delivery but shouts at the referee anyway and gets a booking.

90+3' And straight behind. Whelan and Arnautovic look to combine with a short set-piece routine but there's a breakdown in communications and Nsue can watch the ball behind for a goal kick at his leisure.

90+3' Valdes manages to clear the ball under pressure from Arnautovic but Stoke win a free kick in line with the edge of the centre circle - this is going straight into the area.

90+1' Adomah wants a free kick as he thinks a handball stops his delivery from the right but he gets the ball back and it tackled by Arnautovic. Forshaw sees yellow for refusing to let Imbula counter, chopping across his ankles to stop him escaping.

90' Adomah picks out Downing at the far post and the winger gets up well above Bardsley, but his header is straight at Given - that would have been the fairytale end to the day for Boro but it's still all square as we move into four minutes of added-on time.

89' Stoke break forward down the right but Walters delays his pass a little too long and Clayton makes a tackle, winning a throw in the process.

87' Adomah gets ahead of Pieters at the back post but he can't quite get a telling touch on the ball and it goes behind for a goal kick. Ramirez is going off for Nugent after an assist and a couple of touches of the woodwork.

86' Clayton fouls Imbula in the centre circle but the referee lets play pick up straight away as Shaqiri is streaking forward, but Valdes comes out to pick up Arnautovic's pass toward the goalscorer.

85' David Nugent looks ready to come on, presumably for one of Negredo or Ramirez - the Uruguayan has taken a battering for the cause today, as he did on the final day of last season.

83' Shaqiri doesn't think so, delivering towards the back post where Negredo puts it behind. Ramirez is down after a coming together miles from the ball with Wollscheid, who gets a yellow card.

82' The free kick is cleared back to Shaqiri, whose second ball finds Imbula but the midfielder can't control and it's cleared. Gibson looks for a spectacular cross-field pass but he mis-hits it and Walters eventually wins another free kick after Barragan clambers on top of him to head away. Shooting distance?

81' Another deep free kick for Stoke to send into the area, Shaqiri to take.

78' Here comes one of them - Joe Allen comes on for Bojan.

77' Gaston Ramirez sits down for a stretch as he looks to have a bit of cramp - wouldn't be surprised to see him come off soon, with both sides having two changes left.

76' Arnautovic's cross-field delivery is poor but Friend can't quite pull out of an attempted header and a corner is given - not quite clear if he got a touch on the ball or not, but regarless Wollscheid heads wide from the corner.

75' Shaqiri is the latest to miss the target, going for a clipped finish from the edge of the area which loops high over the net - the finishing in this game hasn't been great, despite the entertainment.

74' Ramirez almost finds Friend in behind but Bardsley just gets a foot across to cut it out - if he'd gone over the defender, he might just have managed to pick him out.

72' Nsue bends a shot towards the far top corner but it deflects wide, before Gibson powers a header just over from the resulting corner.

71' Ramirez plays Downing down the left and he looks to pick out Negredo at the back post with a high cross, but Given just manages to pluck it out of the sky.

70' According to Opta, that's the first direct free kick Stoke have scored in the league since October 2013 - bit of a surprise given the quality in their ranks.

69' Jon Walters is on for Stoke, replacing Diouf.

67' Shaqiri surprises Valdes, curling it across the goalkeeper and in off the post. Cracking hit from the Swiss international - he needs to do that more often for Stoke this season.

67' GOOOALL! Shaqiri picks out the bottom corner!

66' Clayton gives away a free kick at the edge of the area, which looks slightly harsh on Boro as Stoke were given a lengthy period to play on.

64' Arnautovic isn't going to be a popular man in the dressing room if he doesn't start finding his teammates - he cuts in from the left and shoots wildly yet again, this time firing the ball against the corner flag, which keeps it in play for a Boro defender to clear. Boro counter and Ramirez wins a free kick from Imbula.

62' Shaqiri makes room for a shot from range on his strong left foot, but he fails to control the shot and is bends over the crossbar. He had the time and space on the ball to do better with that.

61' Imbula is given all sort of space down the left to deliver a cross into the area, which is hacked behind for a corner. Stoke are still crowding Valdes,  but once again Bojan's delivery is straight out of play.

60' That should be 2-0. Adomah is away down the right this time after cutting inside past Pieters but he opts to try and find Downing instead of Negredo and instead finds neither - Stoke got numbers back well to cover, but Adomah should have done better.

59' Nsue makes headway down the right wing and finds Adomah, who makes room for a cross but can't keep his delivery in play with only Negredo to aim for in the area.

57' Ramirez, already booked, is on his last warning now after fouling Pieters. Stoke attack again and Arnautovic shoots over while off balance inside the area.

55' Shaqiri looks to pick out Arnautovic with a long ball forward but Valdes comes out to punch clear.

52' Nsue and Adomah combine down the right to win a throw which looks to send the latter in behind, but he fouls Pieters as he tries to get past.

51' Boro get another corner but Adomah and Friend can't find the net, before Barragan sells Valdes short with a backpass as Stoke counter - the former Barcelona man is out quickly to clear the danger, though.

50' Great chance for Boro as Ramirez feeds the ball through to Adomah inside the area but his touch is heavy and Wollscheid puts it behind - Negredo was free for a tap-in if Adomah could have squeezed the ball across.

49' Ramirez' delivery looks dangerous but neither Negredo nor Gibson can get a touch. A Stoke defender does, though, so Boro get a throw over on the other side, but it comes to nothing.

47' The home side have started the second half as Stoke began the first, holding onto the ball for the first couple of minutes. Negredo presses first Wollscheid, then Given as he attempts to win the ball but just misses out, before Adomah wins a free kick on the left from Bardsley, who gets a yellow card.

46' Boro get us back underway for the second half.

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Not an especially high-scoring day in the Premier League so far today.

Alvaro Negredo scored, as he did on his first outing for Manchester City, with his first shot for his new club. This has been an entertaining game so far, both teams look to have another goal in them.

Half-time: Middlesbrough 1-0 Stoke City

45+2' Clayton shoots from range and Whelan gets across to deflect it behind. Ramirez' corner looks as though it might have come straight off the post before Friend steams inside from the left again and finds Adomah, but he can't get his shot away properly.

45+1 Stoke will deliver a free kick into the area from close to the halfway line, in the first of three minutes of first-half stoppage time. Offside is given from the initial delivery.

45' Shaqiri bundles his way down the left flank but takes it too far and has to shoot from a very tight angle - it's into the side netting and wide.

44' Barragan picks out Ramirez with a great cross-field ball to the right. He finds Adomah in the area but he can't get past Whelan when he probably should have delivered the ball towards the back post.

41' Valdes is crowded out but Ramirez heads off the line, then there's a free kick for Boro somewhere inside a mass of about 14 players inside the six yard box. Stoke know how they're going to attack Boro's diminutive new goalkeeper.

40' Bojan looks to be clean through but he is forced wide by a recovering Barragan, who then makes a great sliding tackle to put it out for a corner over on the right. Shaqiri to take.

39' Arnautovic cuts in from the left onto his stronger right foot, ignores Diouf and Bojan and blazes his shot over the bar. His teammates aren't happy, needless to say.

38' Bojan puts the ball behind for what should be a goal kick, but a corner is given - it is cleared, sparing the referee's blushes. Shawcross is penalised for another push, this time on Barragan as the Stoke defender looked to attack a deep cross into the Boro area.

36' Post! Good spell from the hosts, Ramirez drifts between centre back and right back and shoots across the keeper, clipping the outside of the post as it flies across.

35' Stand-in captain Friend is having a great time today, now he bundles his way past two defenders and shoots but sees his effort blocked by the last defender.

34' Negredo closes down Given well and it looks as though he might just be able to nick the ball away, but Given clears down his right wing for a Boro throw, which comes to nothing.

33' This is getting a bit tetchy now - a Stoke attack is cleared by Barragan, then breaks down completely as Bardsley fouls Ramirez,

31' Ramirez fouls Pieters with a clumsy elbow as the two go for a high ball, and Given races out to complain to referee Kevin Friend, seeing yellow for his protestations. Ramirez gets a card as well.

30' Shaqiri's cross from the right looks too far for Arnautovic but he does reall well to get forward to it and flick a header towards the back post, where Valdes dives to claim it.

29' Boro's first yellow goes to Stewart Downing after he catches Bardsley late - very late.

28' After the corner is initially taken short, Bojan floats a cross into a great area but a Boro head gets up well to head clear. Without wanting to revert back to an aged stereotype, Stoke look dangerous from set pieces.

27' Pieters wins a corner over on the left, his cross deflecting behind off Nsue.

25' Imbula is bossing the midfield for Stoke so far today, but he plays a loose pass straight off the side of the pitch. A lot of the play is coming through him at the moment, he looks about a foot taller than his opposing midfield pair of Clayton and Forshaw.

23' Arnautovic delivers from the left towards Diouf, but Valdes claims the ball inside the area. Stoke on top now after Boro's initial flurry in the opening minutes.

21' Shawcross sees the first yellow card of the afternoon for a heavy push on Ramirez, not his first of the afternoon. The break in play allows Adam Forshaw to come on, but that's a big blow for Boro - looks like a hamstring injury for their big summer purchase.

20' Shaqiri looks to trick his way past Friend near the right corner but he gets himself in a muddle and Boro win the ball back. Forshaw still isn't on.

18' There's a break in play as De Roon goes down in the centre of the pitch, and he's helped off the pitch by two physios - this isn't good news for them, and Adam Forshaw is going to have to come on as he hobbles down the tunnel. They're down to ten men for the moment.

17' A dangerous low cross from Downing evades just about everyone but Pieters manages to get a touch away, and Stoke counter. Bojan should play through Diouf but instead goes for goal, and his hot flies wide.

16' Stoke crowd the keeper well but Bojan's corner delivery goes straight out of play and onto the roof of the net.

14' Bojan wins a free kick from De Roon in a decent position for Shaqiri to deliver, perhaps 35 yards out on the left. Lots of pushing and shoving, and it's cleared behind for a corner.

13' Stoke immediately look to hit back and Bardsley finds himself some space down the right - his driven cross looks dangerous but a red shirt manages to get to it first.

11' Albert Adomah swaps flanks over to the left, cuts inside and finds Ramirez at the back post. He heads the ball across and Negredo rises highest to bundle it in at close range. Football is back!


9' Friend and Downing combine on the left again but this time the cross is claimed confidently by Given, who looks to launch a counter with a good kick downfield but Boro get it back.

8' Barragan steps out of defence to make a good interception on the half-way line, but his cross-field ball for Negredo is too heavy and the burly forward can't keep it in.

7' Downing and Friend combine down the left to win another corner, which Downing delivers onto the head of Ramirez at the edge of the six-yard box, but his header flies over under pressure from Diouf.

6' Stoke have their first attack but Diouf is marshalled out by Barragan, standing in at centre half - Boro goal kick.

5' Friend loses the ball at the edge of the area after exchanging passes with Clayton on the attack and cutting inside - a positive start from the hosts but Stoke don't look ruffled; they will have expected this in the first few minutes.

4' The corner is too deep and Friend can't keep it in the danger zone, with Stoke managing to get it clear.

3' Arnautovic pulls down Nsue on the right wing and Adomah goes straight for goal with a quick free kick, which Given has to tip over for a corner.

2' 'One Stevie Gibson' rings out around the stadium as Boro fans pay tribute to their chairman, with Stoke holding onto possession in their own half for the first couple of minutes.

1' We're off! Stoke get the new Premier League season underway with the kickoff! FOOTBALL!

The Riverside is absolutely bouncing! These Teessiders have waited seven loooong years for this, and they're not about to let it pass them by.

We're so close. The Premier League is back. It's going to be emotional.

Only 15 minutes until kick-off but my, this is dragging, isn't it? Bring back the football!

A lot of attention will be on Alvaro Negredo and Victor Valdes for the hosts today, but Stewart Downing could be key for Boro this season - his Premier League experience will be crucial, and he was superb in this division for West Ham two seasons ago. 

Stoke haven't been hugely active in the transfer window so far, but with a settled, talented squad, they'll be looking to build on last season's ninth-place finish.

A somewhat hostile reception for Shay Given, in today instead of the injured Jack Butland. He was on his way to sign for Middlesbrough last season but stopped en route to sign for Stoke instead - and that's on top of having played for Newcastle and Sunderland.

Half an hour to go, the teams are out warming up. It's a sell-out here today, and we're expecting a cracking atmosphere.

Who says the promoted clubs this season are weak? Elsewhere in today's early kickoff, it has finished Hull City 2-1 Leicester City!

Boro have been boosted this morning by the news that the immensely popular George Friend has signed a new four-year contract with the club. The left back will wear the captain's armband in the absence of the injured Grant Leadbitter today.

Three debutants for Middlesbrough, then, and a strong starting line-up from Stoke. New signing Joe Allen only makes the bench, alongside five attacking players between the two sides - there are options for both managers to change things if it isn't going to plan.

Stoke City subs: Haugaard, Muniesa, Cameron, Allen, Adam, Walters, Crouch.

Middlesbrough subs: Dimi, Baptiste, Forshaw, Fischer, Stuani, Nugent, Rhodes.

Stoke City XI: Given; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Imbula, Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Diouf.

Middlesbrough XI: Valdes; Nsue, Barragan, Gibson, Friend; De Roon, Clayton; Adomah, Ramirez, Downing; Negredo.

Teams are out! Here we go...

A big blow for Karanka's side will be the absence of defender Daniel Ayala, who played no part in the pre-season preparations. James Husband and Grant Leadbitter will be the only other absentees, with a number of summer transfers pushing for a start against the Potters.

Karanka concluded: "We need to keep the dream going. Everyone is excited - the people on the streets - they’re thinking about the game on Saturday. The club is ready for this.” He continued: “We’ve worked really hard to get here," and believes "For everybody it’s been a dream - so imagine what it’s been like for me."

The main aim for Boro this season will be for survival, but Karanka issued a war cry ahead of their clash with Mark Hughes' side. Karanka said: “The aim is for us to stay in the Premier League, to build the foundations and to be here long-term." 

Boro head into this clash undefeated after a strong pre-season, conceding one and scoring 11. They managed wins over York City, Doncaster Rovers, Aston Villa and a goalless draw with Real Sociedad.

Stoke have played just four pre-season game, winning one of those, a 2-1 triumph against Orlando City. Their last outing was last Saturday against Hamburger SV,  a 1-0 defeat. 

After completing the signing of Xherdan Shaqiri last summer, Stoke have been quieter with their dealings this summer, but did bring in Joe Allen from Liverpool, he's likely to start today. Perhaps the biggest moment of their summer was tying Marko Arnautovic down to a new contract, amid interest from Everton. He's a doubt for today though, due to injury. 

Boro have surprised many with their transfer proceedings, securing the signings of former-Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes and Manchester City's Alvaro Negredo. They added their ninth signing of the summer on Friday, with former Manchester United and Cardiff City full-back Fabio signing a two-year deal at the Riverside Stadium.

Aitor Karanka has prepared his squad ahead of their opening fixture, having secured nine first-team players ahead of the clash with the Potters.

Middlesbrough's club and fans have been waiting for the Teesside outfit to return to the English top-flight for seven years, but almost missed out last year once again. However, they managed to seal their automatic promotion, with their 1-1 draw with close rivals Brighton & Hove Albion, securing their return.

Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to VAVEL UK's live minute-by-minute commentary of Middlesbrough's return to the Premier Leauge, as they host Stoke City on the opening day of the season. I'm Sam France, and will be taking you through all the action, with kick-off at the Riverside Stadium set for 3;00PM BST. Stick with us until then as we build up to the game and get the all-important team news!