Allan McGregor – 8
Scotland’s number one put his Europa League gaffe behind him to play a huge part in a brave performance. His low save from Shawcross from their well worked free-kick was superb while holding on to the ball was miraculous. He brilliantly tipped over Charlie Adam’s long range strike and gathered one low cross brilliantly despite the threat of Diouf’s boot literally hanging over him.
James Chester – n/a
He was the match winner last week and had a fine game in Lokeren on Thursday. He went from hero to zero today with a foul that earned a red card after only 15 minutes – more on that below. The decision was 100% correct.
Curtis Davies – 8
Brilliantly marshaled the defence after Chester’s sending off and maintained a near perfect defensive line. Competed brilliantly on an individual level but played an immense captain’s role.
Paul McShane – 7
Deservedly given a starting berth which after only 15 minutes turned into a role in a centre back pairing. He battled well against tricky opponents and used his experience well to massive come out on top in situations against strikers who were quicker (Diouf), more agile (Crouch) or massive (Bojan). I particularly liked how he waved an imaginary yellow card at Andrew Robertson in the second half to remind him that he was on a booking when he was thinking of taking his time over a throw in.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 7
As always, Elmo put in an incredible shift on the right hand side. He was still taking the game to them when others were out on their feet. He’s got a remarkable engine. I’m always impressed by his ability to beat a man despite possessing only one trick – the kick and run. May I suggest he might get more decisions off referees if he stopped throwing himself in anticipation of contact and waited until he’d taken the whack?
Tom Huddlestone – 8
A fabulous defensive effort. At times he was a third centre half as he sacrificed himself for the team. He made numerous clearances and covered a lot of ground. Between he and Davies they ensured the team set up with a narrow, compact shape that took some breaching. The level of discipline was impressive but he topped it by creating the match winning goal after bullying Bojan Krkic and unleashing a shot that surprised Begovic so much he couldn’t do anything but parry it.
Jake Livermore – 5
He had a very poor game in possession that cost the side big time when he played Chester into an impossible situation leading to the early bath. After that he was, perhaps understandably, eager to get rid of the ball as soon as possible which meant his influence was lacking. As someone with the energy and ability to carry the ball good distance – it robbed us of a great weapon against a numerical disadvantage. Rating redeemed slightly by his great endeavour when Stoke had the ball.
Stephen Quinn – 8
Another who deserved to start after his recent performances. He played a couple of risky passes in the first half that led to the birth of several kittens in the East Stand but he got away with it. Otherwise his game was full of enterprise. He ran himself ragged. He was also a tremendous outlet and gave them something to worry about. If he was for sale – he isn’t now.
Andrew Robertson – 7
An excellent home debut for a left back cum left wing-back who already looks a tremendous investment. He has good pace, a great engine and a real desire to get involved. His yellow card for handball was farcical but he didn’t let it affect his game. The only criticism I have of him is that he’s naïve at times with his forward runs. Particularly when we were down to ten men he was too eager to get forward and left us open. That will improve with experience though.
Tom Ince – 6
He was starved of service playing off Jelavic last week and this week he lasted 15 minutes before he was asked to fill in on the right hand side. He showed some real flair in possession and worked hard to get back but it was understandable that he was the one hooked early in the second half to allow Steve Bruce to get a proper right back on.
Nikica Jelavic – 8
He produced one of the most selfless performances you will see – particularly at the top level. He tried to occupy and harass four defenders on his own with mixed results. He never let up for a moment when his goal came, after he gambled on a rebound, it was fully deserved.
Liam Rosenior – 7
Calm performance at right back. He allowed Elmo to push forward and cause problems and he dealt well with the varying threats of Diouf and Crouch.
David Meyler – 6
George Boyd – 5
Their goal came from a wrongly awarded throw-in. The throw-in came from a very poor pass by Boyd inside towards Huddlestone. A chap near me excused it with “We’re looking tired now” but as Boyd had only been on for 60 seconds, it didn’t really wash!
Steve Bruce – 7
The tremendous team shape with ten men – something we saw work remarkably well last year at home to Norwich and at West Ham - is obviously the result of a lot of hard work on the training ground. I thought we were negative late on particularly with the introduction of Boyd who immediately indicated a 4-5-0 formation. We had a couple of chances to nick it too but turned them down. The decision for Huddlestone to try and run down time from a corner with only 88 mins on the clock was baffling enough but as Davies and McShane were in the box for it – it was just crazy.