Stoke City rallied from behind to record a 1-1 draw with newly-promoted Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on the opening day of the Premier League season.
- Middlesbrough 1 Stoke City 1
- Negredo header gives Boro an 11th-minute lead
- Shaqiri's free-kick levels matters
- Boro claim a point on their return to the Premier League
Middlesbrough started at a high tempo at home and took a deserved 11th minute lead through Alvaro Negredo. Stoke were quiet in the first half although they took control of possession as the half wore on.
They played with more intensity in the second half as it appeared Mark Hughes had some strong words for them at half-time.
Their possession dominance told as Xherdan Shaqiri equalised with a free-kick in which Victor Valdes appeared at fault. However, that was to be the last time the goal was breached as both sides were forced to settle for a point.
Stoke City boss Mark Hughes warned his team to prepare for a high-energy start from Middlesbrough and he wasn't wrong. Boro's anticipated early onslaught came to fruition as Alvaro Negredo headed the Teeside club into an 11th-minute lead.
By scoring with his first attempt, the 'beast' repeated what he did on debut for Manchester City in 2013/14. As the half wore on, Stoke took control of possession but barely threatened debutant Victor Valdes' goal.
The star-man in the first half was Gaston Ramirez – the Uruguayan's link up play with Negredo was impressive and he smashed a left-footed drive against the post in the 36th minute with Shay Given beaten.
Stoke nearly responded immediately as more questions were raised about Valdes' ability to deal with crosses into a packed box. He punched a 41st-minute Stoke corner into Negredo's face, but Ramirez was alert enough to clear the ball off the line.
Stoke finished the half strongly, with Xherdan Shaqiri stabbing a shot just wide, though Valdes seemed to have it covered. Stoke emerged early for the second half as a seemingly enraged Hughes read them a half-time riot act.
After the interval, Boro still looked more dangerous. In the 48th minute, the lively Albert Adomah was nearly though on goal before defender Phillip Wollscheid's toe averted the threat.
The Potters were restricted to long-range efforts, with Arnautovic guilty of missing the target by a distance on more than one occasion.
However, Aitor Karanka's men were surrendering possession as if they were content to hang on for a draw. The pressure took its toll as in the 68th minute Shaqiri equalised with a free-kick in which Valdes appeared to be at fault – the 34-year-old seemed to be caught out of position.
Boro nearly hit back when full-back Emilio Nsue's shot fizzed just wide in the 72nd minute. However, there were no more real scares as both teams appeared content to settle for a point on the opening day.