English Premiership

Reds rule at the Britannia

2014-01-12 20:34
Luis Suarez (AFP)

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 half-time.

Steven Gerrard restored the lead with a penalty before Suarez curled in a fourth.

Jonathan 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.

Brendan Rodgers's 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 five minutes.

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.

Liverpool goalkeeper 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.

Skrtel thumped the ball forward and both Marc Wilson and Shawcross failed to deal with it, enabling Suarez to roll in from a narrow angle.

But 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.

In 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 their lines.

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.

Jordan 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.


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