Hughes: Harsh halftime words paid off

Getty Images

Mark Hughes felt some choice words at halftime and the introduction of Joselu and Stephen Ireland were key to Stoke City's comeback at Tottenham on Saturday.

Spurs looked set to gain revenge over Stoke for doing the double over them last season when Eric Dier and Nacer Chadli put the home side 2-0 up at halftime.

Stoke had other ideas, though, as Premier League debutant Joselu turned sharply in the box before being upended by Toby Alderweireld and Marko Arnautovic tucked away the resulting penalty 12 minutes from time.

Ireland then crossed for Mame Biram Diouf to glance in a header that made it 2-2 five minutes later to ensure Stoke claimed its first point of the season after losing to Liverpool last weekend.

Stoke boss Hughes was pleased to see his side respond some home truths at halftime and said the contribution of his substitutes shows the strength in depth in his squad.

"We were disappointed with that we produced in the first half, 2-0 down at the break and conceding from a set play — albeit I don't think the lad (Dier) knew too much about it, I think it hit him on the back of the head and went in," he said. "Then they got the second goal just before halftime, so 2-0 was a big ask. But we had a discussion at halftime, it's fair to say. They understood what I was looking for and applied themselves really well in the second half. 

"They didn't allow Tottenham as much easy possession in the second half, interrupted the rhythm of their play and we then made the introduction of Stevey (Ireland) and Joselu, which gave us more ball retention in key areas of the field and that allowed us to put more pressure on Tottenham. In the end, they went under due to that pressure. If we'd had another 10-15 minutes we might have won it, but given the situation we were in at halftime we are delighted to come back and get a point."

He added: "We've got a really good group and the guys who have come into it have bought into it. We are a good strong group, with good qualities and I think you saw that today."