Lewis Baker scored twice as Stoke cruised to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Hull at the MKM Stadium for their first win under new boss Alex Neil.
Stoke took the lead midway through the second half when Baker’s free-kick deflected past Matt Ingram and the visitors grabbed a second on the stroke of half-time through Ben Wilmot’s header.
Baker gave the visitors an unassailable advantage in the second period when his curling finish from outside the area made it three, with the Potters captain playing a part in every goal with two goals and an assist.
Sky Bet Championship football returned after a perfectly observed minute’s silence from both sets of supporters to commemorate the Queen followed by a loud rendition of the national anthem which rang around the MKM Stadium.
The Potters started brightly and fashioned a couple of early half-chances through Will Smallbone and Liam Delap but failed to threaten Ingram with either chance in the opening five minutes.
Hull began to make their mark as both sides created opportunities, but Ozan Tufan’s first shot on target in the 11th minute went straight down the throat of Josef Bursik – a late addition to the line-up after keeper Jack Bonham picked up an injury in the warm-up.
The home side gifted a couple of free-kicks to the visitors in dangerous positions and when Jordan Thompson was tripped outside the box, Baker punished the Tigers as his shot took a big deflection off the wall to wrong-foot Ingram and give Stoke the lead.
Delap was a bright spark throughout the half for the Potters and the Manchester City loanee broke forward after a clever Dwight Gayle flick but directed his tame effort straight at Ingram.
The away side made Hull pay from another set-piece as Baker turned provider with a delicious ball onto the head of Wilmot, who rose highest to get his second goal in as many games to make it 2-0.
Stoke could have had the game out of sight less than a minute after the interval but Smallbone could not guide his one-on-one effort past the keeper.
Dimitrios Pelkas was introduced as a second-half substitute by home boss Shota Arveladze and almost made an immediate impact when he teed up Oscar Estupinan who crashed his effort off the post to deny the Tigers a route back into the match.
Hull upped the ante in search of a breakthrough and Bursik was on hand again to deny Slater’s powerful effort from the edge of the area.
The relentless, aggressive and efficient Stoke attack showed no signs of letting up and had a third 64 minutes in through Baker’s fine finish from outside the area to put the game beyond any doubt.
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