Southampton saw their eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end with a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City at St Mary’s.
A frustrating afternoon all-round for Ronald Koeman’s men saw Saints fail to recover from Stoke’s tenth-minute strike from Bojan.
The Spaniard’s neat flick gave the visitors a priceless advantage which they held on to with a resilient performance, as they repelled Saints time and again in the contest.
Saints were not at their best, but still tested their opponents and were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty on at least one occasion, with Stoke showing why their last goal conceded away from home came in mid-September.
Cédric, Victor Wanyama and Shane Long all returned to the Saints side from the team that started the win at Sunderland.
Wanyama was back after serving his one-match ban, while Long overcame his ankle injury to take the place of Sadio Mané, who dropped to the bench.
After a tentative opening to the game from both teams, Saints drew the first chance of the contest on six minutes when the ball pinged around inside the area until Dušan Tadić got a shot away from the left side of the box which flashed across the face of goal.
Stoke showed signs of life soon after though with Bojan seeing a low shot saved by Stekelenburg at his near post, before taking the lead with ten minutes on the watch.
A move that started on the right ended with a low cross from left-back Erik Pieters which was flicked in at the near post by Bojan.
Xherdan Shaqiri fired a shot over as Stoke threatened to build on their lead, and they perhaps should have been 2-0 up when Bojan’s run and pass picked out Shaqiri who drew a fine low save from Stekelenburg in the 16th minute.
Although struggling to build rhythm after conceding, Saints came back into it and saw Fonte head a free-kick over from Steven Davis’s delivery.
Stoke keeper Jack Butland then almost presented Victor Wanyama with a clear sight of goal when he dropped a Davis free-kick, but the Kenyan prodded a shot wide with the angle against him.
The best of the late first half opportunities for the hosts came on 37 minutes when Wanyama hooked the ball up field and Tadić led the charge forward, holding the ball up inside the box until shooting wide at the near post.
Cédric ended the half with a bandaged head after a clash of heads on the touchline, but returned for the second half with no changes from either side at the break.
The visitors almost caught Saints cold though within the first minute of the restart, a neat flick from Bojan set Arnautoić away on the right, and his drag back across the area was eventually fired over by Shaqiri, though the Swiss international ought to have done better.
Saints were much improved thereafter with Tadić coming across to the right to pile pressure on the Stoke defence.
His endeavour led to a chance for Wanyama to shoot from distance, on the hour mark, but the midfielder’s low strike just brushed wide of Butland’s goal without troubling the shot stopper.
Ronald Koeman added an extra dimension to his side’s play with the introduction of Sadio Mané with 25 minutes remaining, and Saints continued to press.
On 67 Long went to ground inside the area under a challenge from Marko Arnautović, but with no spot-kick given, the hosts went back to the drawing board.
Mané let fly with a low shot which was held by Butland, and with four forward players on the pitch, James Ward-Prowse entered the action to boost Saints’ armoury.
Stoke could have settled it on the break when Arnautović broke through on the right, but faced one-on-one with Stekelenburg, he fired a shot over the bar.
Charlie Adam and substitute Ibrahim Afellay each went close with strikes, while at the other end, Fonte headed a Ward-Prowse free-kick wide.
Saints felt they had good claims for a penalty when Philipp Wollscheid, who had an earlier tangle with Pellè, then kicked the striker inside the area as he went up for a header, which brought the Italian to ground, but match official Lee Mason wasn’t interested in the appeals.
The late introduction of Juanmi for Cèdric meant that Saints ended the game with five attacking players on the pitch who threw everything at their opponents, but Stoke who also saw Afellay’s shot cleared from the line by Bertrand, held firm for the win.
Southampton team (4-2-3-1): Maarten Stekelenburg; Cédric (Juanmi 85), José Fonte (c), Virgil van Dijk, Ryan Bertrand; Jordy Clasie (Sadio Mané 64), Victor Wanyama; Shane Long, Steven Davis (James Ward-Prowse 72), Dušan Tadić; Graziano Pellè. Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis (GK), Maya Yoshida, Oriol Romeu, Steven Caulker
Booked: Ward-Prowse (77), Pellè (90)
Stoke City team (4-2-3-1): Jack Butland; Glen Johnson, Philipp Wollscheid, Ryan Shawcross (c), Erik Pieters; Charlie Adam, Glenn Whelan; Xherdan Shaqiri (Ibrahim Afellay 64), Marko Arnautović, Bojan Krkić (Geoff Cameron 71); Jonathan Walters (Mame Biram Diouf 87). Unused substitutes: Jakob Haugaard (GK), Stephen Ireland, Marc Wilson, Peter Crouch
Goal: Bojan (10)
Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 30,039 (including 1,269 away)