English Premiership

Reading hold Liverpool

2013-04-13 19:16
Luis Suarez (AP Photo)

London - Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy reminded England boss Roy Hodgson of his international credentials as he shut out Liverpool in a 0-0 draw at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

But the result did neither side any favours with Reading remaining rock-bottom, seven points adrift with just five games left.

Liverpool are seventh, eight points behind fifth-placed Tottenham who currently occupy the Europa League qualifying place.

Former Reading player and boss Brendan Rodgers was making only his third return to Berkshire with an opposition side and his first with a top-flight outfit.

And he would have been frustrated by the finishing of Luis Suarez, Phillipe Coutinho, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge who were all out-performed by England candidate McCarthy who was making his first performance in five months.

All four would have been licking their lips going into this fixture against the rock-bottom side who had lost their previous eight in all competitions and had the worst defence in the Premier League.

Former Chelsea striker Sturridge was recalled to the Liverpool starting XI in the place of Stewart Downing, who dropped to the bench.

Reading were forced to change their goalkeeper for the third time in as many games after first choice Adam Federici suffered an ankle injury in training.

That meant that McCarthy came in for his first game in 2013 having just come back from shoulder surgery.

Flares were set off in the away end after both sets of supporters remembered the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy 24 years ago on Monday.

On the pitch the fireworks took longer to ignite.

It wasn't until the 13th minute that the first goal-scoring chance came.

Coutinho spotted a gap in the Royals defence and Sturridge left his pass for Suarez whose clever chip beat McCarthy, but not right-back Chris Gunter who was back to head it away from off the line.

Then Brazil international Coutinho struck a low shot from the edge of the box that the 23-year-old keeper just about got a finger-tip to.

Reading's reply was one of intent, but little quality.

A number of corners were easily collected by Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina as Adkins' side failed to threaten the Spaniard's net in the opening 45 minutes.

When Gunter gave the ball away cheaply just inside his own half to Sturridge, the former Chelsea man's pass to Suarez was perfect for the Uruguayan to run on to, but he shot straight at McCarthy who made another impressive save.

Playing out of his skin, McCarthy was winning the plaudits of his players again on the stroke of half-time as he got down to block an instinctive Sturridge shot from close range with his legs.

McCarthy was beaten four minutes into the second-half, but Steven Gerrard's clever ball flicked in by Coutinho was ruled out for offside.

Reading took longer to click into gear, but when they did in the 65th minute they went agonisingly close through Noel Hunt.

Russia international Pavel Pogrebnyk's shot was met by Hunt on the edge of the six-yard box only for Reina to come off his line and intervene.

McCarthy then made his best saves of the match five minutes from time to somehow deny Gerrard and then Suarez.

For the second game running, Liverpool failed to hit the back of the net, but for Reading, they claimed only their third clean sheet of the season.

Read more on:    liverpool  |  reading  |  english premiership  |  soccer

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