Shaqiri strike frustrates returning Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough were left frustrated on their return to the Premier League as Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri rescued a 1-1 draw at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
Aitor Karanka’s team are back in the English top flight after a seven-year absence and they experienced a rollercoaster opening match of the new campaign.
Alvaro Negredo marked his debut by giving Middlesbrough an early lead, but the hosts couldn’t make the most of their territorial dominance.
Middlesbrough, promoted as Championship runners-up, paid the price after the break when Stoke’s Swiss playmaker Shaqiri produced a fine free-kick to salvage a point.
Karanka has made 10 signings since last season and gave debuts to Negredo, three-time Champions League winner Victor Valdes in goal and £12 million midfielder Marten de Roon.
With Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland out after injuring his ankle in training, Shay Given started for Mark Hughes’ side and the 40-year-old was picking the ball out of the net by the 11th minute.
Showing his impressive strength, Negredo rose above his marker to meet Gaston Ramirez’s header and guided the ball past Given from close-range with a combination of his head and shoulder.
It was a sweet moment for on-loan Valencia forward Negredo, who was written off after scoring just nine goals in 32 games during his last spell in the Premier League with Manchester City in 2013-14.
There was a setback for the hosts when De Roon was forced to come off with a hamstring injury in the 18th minute.
But Middlesbrough remained in the ascendency, almost doubling their lead when Ramirez swivelled past Ryan Shawcross on the edge of the penalty area and fired in a low drive that struck the outside of the post.
Ramirez came to Middlesbrough’s rescue when he headed clear from under the crossbar after Valdes’s punch cannoned goalwards off Negredo during a rare Stoke attack.
To cap a hectic period for Ramirez, the Uruguay midfielder hit the Stoke woodwork with a corner just before the interval.
After a lethargic first half, Stoke needed to improve significantly and they did just that to force an equaliser in the 67th minute.
Showing tremendous technique, Shaqiri curled a powerful free-kick goalwards and Valdes could only help it into the net.
Middlesbrough tried to respond and Emilio Nsue’s fierce shot deflected wide off Erik Pieters, but it finished honours even.
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