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Liverpool 0 Stoke City 0

 


Stoke produced a solid defensive display to hold us off and take a hard-earned point away from Anfield. But their task was made easier when officials missed Robert Huth's stamp on Luis Suarez early on after a tussle which should have resulted in his sending off.

As always we created plenty of chances and hit the woodwork on three occasions in the second period via Raheem Sterling, Suarez and Martin Skrtel. It could have been worse for the Reds, who twice almost pushed the self-destruct button, but ultimately this will be seen as another disappointment in a rebuilding season.

We started brightly but twice goalkeeper Jose Reina attempted to pass the ball out to a midfielder; twice, Stoke scented a weakness and pounced, and twice it was only the reactions of the Spaniard which saved us from going behind. Stoke had clearly anticipated Reina would refuse to launch the ball long, and the first time it was Nuri Sahin who conceded possession, giving Charlie Adam a chance to humiliate his former employees. The Scot advanced toward goal, but Reina was quickly out of the blocks to narrow the angle and parry the shot.

We mad the same mistake again soon afterward. This time it was Steven N'Zonzi snapping into the challenge as another Reina pass went awry and Michael Kightly tried to lob the ball into the goal, but the keeper recovered to turn it over. Having passed up those chances, Stoke reverted to type, striking long balls and collecting six yellow cards in the process, and the game disintegrated as a spectacle.

Our frustration increased and all that there was to give the fans some hope before the break was a sweeping shot by Steven Gerrard turned aside by Asmir Begovic, and a toe-poke from Daniel Agger that bounced wide. We made just about all the chances of the second period, although none were really clear-cut.

First, a terrific combination between Gerrard and Suarez which the Stoke defense snuffed out. Gerrard then picked out Glen Johnson's run with a pass of arrow-like precision, but his England team-mate, on the run, could not keep the shot down. A run of genuine brilliance by Suarez, the most gifted player on the pitch by some distance, nearly scored a superb goal, but he just bent the shot wide.

Sterling was presented with perhaps Liverpool's best opportunity after Agger's driving run, but he tried to drill it inside the near post and only found the outside of the woodwork. Suarez then showed the best and worst of his talents in the space of a couple of minutes, first with a dive in the penalty area that was embarrassing, then he bursting down the right and powering a shot against the outside of a post from a tight angle. Skrtel nearly snatched a winner at the end when he hooked Joe Cole's ball back across goal, but it hit the post.

 

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