Liverpool 1-0 Stoke City Match Report

17 Aug

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Liverpool 1-0 Stoke City Match Report

 

Liverpool got off to the perfect start to the new season with a 1-0 win over Stoke City at Anfield. Daniel Sturridge provided the only goal of the game with a stunning 25 yard strike. Liverpool dominated the match creating a number of good chances but were left to thank goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for an amazing penalty save from Walters in the last couple of minutes.

 

The Team

 

Brendan Rodgers gave 3 players their Liverpool debuts with Simon Mignolet starting in goal with Kolo Toure in front of him in the centre of defence, Aspas started in an attacking role. Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique and Daniel Agger completed the rest of Liverpool’s defence. Coutinho, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson and Sturridge made up the rest of Liverpool’s team for the first game of the season.

 

The Match

 

Both teams were greeted to a very loud rendition of Liverpool’s famous anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone prior to kick-off and the atmosphere certainly inspired the Liverpool players as they flew out of the blocks at the start of the match.

 

But it was Stoke who almost took an early lead when Robert Huth smashed a shot against the Liverpool crossbar after a Stoke corner kick.

 

Liverpool forced Stoke back into their defensive third and Sturridge headed the ball into the net from a Gerrard cross, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

 

Then 2 minutes later Toure headed another Gerrard delivery against the bar with Begovic beaten, Sturridge could only blast the rebound high over the bar.

 

A minute later Sturridge’s cross-shot was cleared off the line by Erik Pieters as Liverpool created chance after chance with some sharp passing and movement.

 

Coutinho almost put Aspas through in the box but his pass was just too strong and Aspas’s stretched effort was easily saved by Begovic.

 

Liverpool’s energetic performance was typified by the efforts of Aspas, Coutinho and Sturridge as they pressed high up the park.

 

Enrique was then denied by Begovic after combining with Aspas inside the Stoke area and Gerrard shot over from the rebound.

 

Begovic once again frustrated Liverpool, this time saving a shot from Henderson after another great pass from Coutinho.

 

Moments later it was Sturridge being denied by Begovic after he fired a right-foot shot at the Stoke goal.

 

But a minute later Sturridge broke the deadlock with a stunning 25 yard strike low into the bottom corner as Begovic was finally beaten.

 

Stoke responded to losing a goal with Walters bringing out a good save from Mignolet as Stoke tried to level before the break.

 

Then just before the half-time whistle Lucas cleared off the line from a Stoke corner to keep Liverpool’s lead intact.

 

Liverpool started the second half the way they started the first with Coutinho driving down the left wing before curling an effort wide of goal.

 

Begovic continued to excel in Stoke’s goal as he saved from Henderson after a cross by Coutinho. Moments later Sturridge had another shot saved by Begovic which resulted in a corner.

 

Aspas flicked a header just wide from Gerrard’s corner-kick. Liverpool continued to press for a second goal and Henderson couldn’t have went closer when  his curling strike bounced back off the inside of the post with Begovic beaten.

 

As time ran on and only one goal separating the teams, you could sense a nervous atmosphere surrounding Anfield and Stoke appreciated this as they pushed forward.

 

But Gerrard tried to calm the nerves as he stepped up to take a 30 yard free-kick, but not for the first time Begovic was equal to it as he clawed away the ball in spectacular fashion as it headed for the top corner.

 

Then former Liverpool player Adam had Mignolet worried as he tried his luck from the half-way line, the big Belgian just managing to tip the ball over his bar.

 

But with 3 minutes to go Liverpool were stunned when Stoke were awarded a penalty after Agger was adjudged to have handled the ball as he attempted to defend a Stoke free-kick.

 

Walters hit the resulting penalty kick low to Mignolet’s right, but the Belgian guessed the right way and palmed away the strike before reacting quickly to block Jones’s follow up to the delight of the Liverpool players and supporters .

 

Liverpool managed to hold out for the remaining minutes to go top of the league, if only for a few hours.

 

Summary

 

Liverpool really did play well and should have won by a bigger margin, but for an amazing goalkeeping performance by Stoke’s Begovic and some poor finishing. Liverpool played a high tempo pressing game that Stoke found difficult to cope with. Liverpool’s movement was also impressive, especially from Aspas, Sturridge, Coutinho and Henderson who all interchanged their positions frequently. Sturridge looked impressively sharp considering he missed most of pre-season through injury and he deserved a goal for his efforts. Stoke are the type of team that Liverpool have struggled to beat in recent years and that makes the win particularly pleasing, although it was heart in the mouth stuff at the award of the late penalty. But what a great double save from debutant Mignolet to seal Liverpool’s win. It would have been really difficult to take if Liverpool had not won the match after playing so well. Overall a great win and start to the season for Liverpool and hopefully Liverpool can build on this good start in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

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