Senegal’s Mame Biram Diouf scored twice as Stoke City sharpened the focus on West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Irvine with a 2-0 win in the Premier League on Sunday.
Former Manchester United striker Diouf struck twice in 15 second-half minutes at the Britannia Stadium to give Stoke back-to-back wins for the first time this season after Friday last week’s 1-0 success at Everton.
It was a third defeat in a row for West Brom, who have won only once in nine games, and it followed Irvine’s admission that he feared for his job at The Hawthorns.
The defeat saw Irvine’s side fall one place to 16th and left them just a point above the relegation zone ahead of a trip to high-flying West Ham United on New Year’s Day.
While Stoke boss Mark Hughes made only one change, replacing Jonathan Walters with Peter Crouch, Irvine drafted Brown Ideye, Chris Brunt, Graham Dorrans and Chris Baird into his lineup.
The visitors enjoyed the best of the first half, but it was Stoke who went closest to breaking the deadlock, with Bojan Krkic fizzing a shot narrowly wide in the 14th minute.
Bojan has been one of Stoke’s most impressive performers in recent weeks and he was the catalyst for the home side’s opening goal in the 51st minute.
The former Barcelona forward sprayed a pass wide to Erik Pieters on the Stoke left and the Dutch fullback’s low cross was in turned in by Diouf via a slight deflection off Joleon Lescott.
Irvine responded with a double change, sending on Saido Berahino and Silvestre Varela, and saw his side hit the woodwork when Gareth McAuley stabbed a shot against the post following a goal-mouth scramble, but in the 66th minute Diouf claimed his second goal when he fortuitously deflected a shot from Marko Arnautovic past Ben Foster to leave Irvine cursing his luck once again.
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