Date: 5th March 2017 at 11:19am
Written by: Vital Boro

Middlesbrough slipped into the relegation places after Marko Arnautovic scored twice for Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium.

Arnautovic rounded Victor Valdes for his first on the half-hour before taking advantage of Peter Crouch’s headed assist prior to the interval.

Boro suffered an early blow with Daniel Ayala picking up a suspected hamstring injury and being replaced by Bernardo.

They were almost behind when Ramadan Sobhi crashed onto the crossbar from close-range following a delivery by Arnautovic.

Marten De Roon was blocked at the other end before a long ball forward witnessed Arnautovic avoiding both George Friend and Valdes and finding the net.

Bernardo replied by heading towards goalkeeper Lee Grant from a free-kick sent in by Grant Leadbitter, who also saw a twenty-yard effort deflected wide.

However, Boro’s afternoon was about to get even more difficult with Crouch heading down a corner for Austrian international Arnautovic to add his second.

Ben Gibson struck another Leadbitter free-kick into the net after the break but Bernardo was offside, while Crouch went down amid penalty claims at the other end.

Keeper Valdes then did well to deny Ramadan’s header following Geoff Cameron’s cross, and he also kept out substitute Saido Berahino after further penalty shouts against Gibson.

Stoke City: Grant, Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi (Afellay 87), Pieters, Cameron, Whelan, Sobhi, Allen, Arnautovic (Diouf 65), Crouch (Berahino 79)

subs (unused): Bardsley, Adam, Walters, Given

Goals: Arnautovic (29, 42)

Middlesbrough: Valdes, Fabio, Ayala (Bernardo 8), Gibson, Friend, De Roon, Clayton, Leadbitter (Guedioura 75), Traore, Ramirez (Stuani 46), Gestede

subs (unused): Guzan, Barragan, Forshaw, Negredo

Ref: C. Pawson

Att: 27,644