A late goal from Ryan Shotton has helped Stoke City to a 1-0 win over Hajduk Split in Europa League qualifying on Thursday.The visitors defended bravely in Split before Shotton popped up to score a fortuitous 90th-minute goal and seal passage to the play-off round with a 2-0 aggregate win.
Chances were few and far between in a tepid first half with Stoke simply happy to keep the partisan home crowd at the Poljud Stadium quiet and Hajduk lacking the quality to break them down.
After the interval the match initially followed largely the same pattern with Hajduk trying to dictate the game in the midfield and Stoke content to sit and try and break down the flanks.
As the half wore on, however, Stoke’s defensive line began to drop deeper and deeper and front men Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters were reduced to the role of spectators as Hajduk repeatedly prodded and probed the visitors’ backline.
Time and again, though, the Potters’ committed and organised defending denied Hajduk space in the final third, and the Croatians were reduced to tame efforts from outside the box.
There was no late rally from the home side, and instead Tony Pulis’ side confirmed their place in the next round with a late winner.
Substitute Shotton heading home from Dean Whitehead’s inviting right wing cross, despite the best efforts of Split defender Ljubo Milicevic.