Reds rule at the Britannia
Stoke - Luis Suarez has scored twice as Liverpool secured a first English Premiership
victory at Stoke City and climbed to fourth in the table with a dramatic
5-3 win on Sunday.
The visitors raced into an early 2-0 lead,
with a Ryan Shawcross own goal and a Suarez effort giving them an
apparently comfortable cushion.
But Peter Crouch's header pulled
one back before Charlie Adam -- also a former Liverpool player --
thumped in from the edge of the area to pull Stoke level just before
Steven Gerrard restored the lead with a penalty before Suarez curled in a fourth.
Walters looked to set up a tense finish by reducing the arrears in the
85th minute, but Daniel Sturridge celebrated his return from an ankle
injury by scoring Liverpool's fifth.
The visitors were far from
convincing at times, but they picked up what could prove to be a pivotal
win in their push for a Champions League place.
side had to make a strong start defensively as they dealt with a couple
of early Adam corners, but the visitors got a welcome break after just
Lucas Leiva played Raheem Sterling into space down
the right and the winger clipped the ball back for Aly Cissokho, whose
shot from 25 yards was flying well wide before hitting Shawcross and
flying past Jack Butland.
The visitors were continually forced
deep but rarely looked in trouble and should have doubled their
advantage when Sterling crossed for Philippe Coutinho, only for the
Brazilian to lift his shot just over the bar.
Simon Mignolet failed to deal with another Walters ball in and Glenn
Whelan's drive was deflected wide before Kolo Toure did well to clear
ahead of Crouch from the corner that followed.
After the visitors
scrambled another corner clear, Martin Skrtel and Shawcross ended up
wrestling in the goalmouth as the Stoke man showed his anger at the way
he was being marked.
Suarez hit a free-kick wide off Marko Arnautovic, but the Uruguayan added a second with half an hour gone.
thumped the ball forward and both Marc Wilson and Shawcross failed to
deal with it, enabling Suarez to roll in from a narrow angle.
six minutes before the interval the hosts pulled one back when
Arnautovic chucked a cross into the area and Crouch angled in a clever
header at the near post.
Liverpool almost responded immediately when Coutinho was picked out by Suarez, but he could only shoot straight at Butland.
the final minute before the interval, Adam hauled Stoke level when he
thumped home from the edge of the area after Liverpool failed to clear
Adam then hit a half-volley wide as Stoke began the
second half on the offensive, but Liverpool re-took the lead six minutes
after the break.
Wilson's attempted clearance was blocked by
Sterling and as the winger broke into the area, he went down under the
Irish defender's challenge.
Referee Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty and Gerrard sent Butland the wrong way from the spot.
Henderson drove over, Coutinho had a low effort saved by Butland and
Sterling failed to get a clean strike on Cissokho's cross as Liverpool
searched for a fourth goal.
With 19 minutes left, they got it as
Sturridge surged forward and played a smart ball through for Suarez to
curl into the bottom-right corner.
Mignolet pulled off a fine stop
to push away an awkward header from Walters, but the Belgian conceded a
third goal when Arnautovic clipped a ball in behind the visiting
defence and Walters prodded home.
Liverpool finally ended the
contest when Suarez played Sturridge through and after the England
striker's first shot was saved by Butland, he coolly controlled before
volleying home at the near post.
There was still time for Crouch to head against the post at the other end, but Liverpool held on.