Thursday, 3 February 2011

Liverpool 2 Stoke City 0

Luis Suarez scored on his Liverpool debut as the Reds began their post-Fernando Torres era by beating Stoke.
Potters keeper Asmir Begovic's reflex save kept out a Glen Johnson header but Raul Meireles drove in a 47th minute shot to put the home side ahead.
John Carew had a strike which went wide before Suarez rounded Begovic and saw his shot go in despite Andy Wilkinson's attempt at a sliding interception.
Reds keeper Pepe Reina saved from Jon Walters as Liverpool secured victory.
On a day when the giant Torres mural on the outside of the stadium had been removed, inside Anfield Suarez provided enough evidence after his 63rd minute introduction that the Reds faithful might have another hero to appreciate.
The Uruguayan's goal in front of the Kop 16 minutes after coming off the substitutes bench helped the Reds to a third consecutive league win, while the home side also kept a clean sheet in as many matches.
Ahead of the game, fellow new forward signing Andy Carroll, who is sidelined with a thigh injury, also came on to the pitch to a rapturous ovation as the new arrivals gave a glimpse of the future.
The present team, meanwhile, went about the business of trying to prove their worth without Torres.
Dirk Kuyt took the Spaniard's place in spearheading the attack as manager Kenny Dalglish opted to play a three-man central defence of Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger to combat Stoke's physical aerial danger.
However, it was Liverpool's threat in the air which almost gave them the lead when a glanced Kyrgiakos header from a Steven Gerrard corner was cleared from the goalmouth by ex-Red Salif Diao.
Tony Pulis's side heeded the warning and showed a degree of comfort as their hosts struggled to break them down before the Merseysiders warmed to their task and exerted some pressure towards the end of the first half.
Liverpool wing-backs Martin Kelly and Johnson combined with the former crossing for the latter to cushion a header which Begovic kept out with an impressive save.
An unmarked Kuyt flicked another header disappointingly wide and, when the hard-working Dutchman was not clinical enough after being found by a nodded Gerrard pass or when turning and shooting from the edge of the box, it was hard not to think of the departed Torres.
That was until 47 minutes when a long range Gerrard strike came off the Stoke wall and, after Potters centre-back Robert Huth tackled Kyrgiakos, the ball fell to Meireles to steer in a shot for his third goal in four games.
Carew, making his full debut for Stoke, sent an effort across goal narrowly wide as the visitors were forced to attack before £22.7m signing Suarez made a goalscoring start to his Anfield career.
A Kuyt flick released Liverpool's new number seven on goal and, although Wilkinson got a boot to the striker's shot, he could only help it into the net off the post.
Reina had to keep out a Walters shot to maintain a clean sheet for the home side as the Reds revival continued ahead of the visit to face Torres and his new club Chelsea on Sunday.

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