Thursday, October 27, 2011

Match Report: Stoke 1 - 2 Liverpool

A second-half brace from Luis Suarez sent Liverpool through to the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup with a 2-1 win over Stoke.

Both managers named strong teams, and a crowd of just short of 25,000 at the Britannia Stadium were rewarded with a first half full of chances that ended with Kenwyne Jones heading in the opening goal after Jon Walters had robbed Sebastian Coates.

But the night was to belong to Suarez.

Nine minutes into the second half the Uruguayan curled an exquisite shot into the corner before, with extra-time looming, heading in the winner five minutes from time.

Stoke were unbeaten at the Britannia Stadium this season, with Liverpool among their victims in the Barclays Premier League in September.

A penalty from Walters separated the teams that day, and the striker came close to giving the hosts an early lead here with an audacious effort from wide on the left that dropped just over the bar with Jose Reina back-pedalling.

At the other end Stoke backed off and allowed Andy Carroll a run and shot that was parried by Sorensen into the path of Suarez, but the ball came to the Uruguayan very quickly and he could only direct it wide.

It was a breathless start to the game, and Ryan Shotton should really have done better than drag his shot well wide when he found himself in space at the back post.

Liverpool were looking marginally the more threatening and Sorensen produced a smart save to deny Suarez after a neat move involving Lucas Leiva and Maxi Rodriguez, while Carroll did not make the most of a free header.

The striker had another golden chance 26 minutes in, shooting straight at Sorensen from 15 yards with Stoke appealing in vain for offside.

The Potters thought they had opened the scoring in the 35th minute when Walters flicked in Rory Delap's long throw but referee Lee Probert felt Ryan Shawcross had impeded Reina and it was disallowed.

They had the ball in the net again nine minutes later, and this time it did count, although it was a goal Liverpool will feel should have been prevented.

Uruguayan defender Coates, making only his second start for the club, was robbed by Walters out on the right and the striker charged into the area before crossing for Jones to head into the far corner.

Nine minutes into the second half Liverpool drew level with a goal of real quality from Suarez. After collecting the ball wide on the left, the Uruguayan nutmegged Shotton before curling a delightful shot into the far corner.

After the glut of chances in the first half, the second was much tighter, with Liverpool coping comfortably with a number of Delap long throws.

Dalglish made his first change in the 82nd minute, bringing on Craig Bellamy for Maxi, and the striker almost made an immediate impact, striking the post with a low effort from 20 yards.

But Liverpool were to get another chance as Jordan Henderson's 85th-minute cross picked out the head of Suarez, who nodded home the winner.

The night ended on a sour note for the striker as he hobbled off moments later to be replaced by Dirk Kuyt, but Liverpool withstood a number of late Stoke salvos to book their place in the last eight.

Dalglish Delighted With Comeback Triumph

Kenny Dalglish hailed the battling qualities of his Liverpool side as they fought back from a goal down to defeat Stoke 2-1 and reach the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup.

Dalglish said: ''Every win's important but I think the most important thing was that we hung on in there. In the first half I think we missed six chances you normally expect us to put away, at least one or two of them anyway, but they got one in front.

''In the second half the boys dug deep, defended really well, the wee man scored a fantastic goal and then a good header as well. It was important that we finished off some of the football we've been playing, especially the last two games.''

Liverpool had already tasted defeat at Stoke this season having lost 1-0 to a Jon Walters penalty in the Premier League in September, and they went behind again with a goal of their own making.

''You're not going to come here and go away unscathed,'' added Dalglish. ''They normally get a goal from somewhere, that's why they've been successful. We had to match up to them and make sure that when we got the opportunity we passed and moved, and we did that in the first half.

''We're disappointed to lose any goal but the way they came back from it is more important to us. It's never the mistake, it's the way they reacted to it.''

Pulis Bemoans Decisions

Stoke boss Tony Pulis bemoaned decisions which went against his side after the Potters lost to Liverpool in the Carling Cup.

Jamie Carragher was booked after a challenge on Matthew Etherington on 21 minutes before Jon Walters had the ball in the net with a header from a Rory Delap throw-in but Ryan Shawcross was adjudged to have impeded Jose Reina and the goal did not count.

Stoke then took the lead via a Kenwyne Jones header but Luis Suarez notched a brace to win it for the Reds, although Peter Crouch had a penalty shout turned down late on.

Pulis had no quibble with the result at the end, telling Sky Sports: "I thought Liverpool were better, more so first half than second half.

"I thought we were much more even contest second half but they played really well first half Liverpool and fair play to them.

"We were pretty fortunate to be coming in one-nil up but like I say second half it was much more even-steven.

"I didn't think there was a lot of chances second half and he's made one himself - great, great goal, great finish and the second goal is a good finish as well."

But the Stoke boss thought the club had the rough end of the decisions from referee Lee Probert.

He said: "Carragher's a smashing lad and a great pro and I've got a lot of respect for him but the challenge is a bad challenge.

"If he gets what we think a Stoke City player might get, then he's off and that's 20 minutes.

"The other two incidents, the goal that we score from a long throw, we don't think is a free-kick and especially when you compare it to what the lad's done on Crouch in the second half. And the referee has good views on all three decisions.

"We just want even-stevens, we don't want nothing more than Liverpool but we don't want nothing less as well and we think we got the rough end of it from a referee that has disallowed a great goal that we scored at Aston Villa a couple of years ago and also a great goal from Tuncay last year at Everton that he disallowed.

"We're really disappointed in respect if he's going to give the incident down one end and disallow that goal, then he's going to give a penalty for the lad (Crouch) because he can see it.

"You can't have rules in one box and not the same rules in the other box."

He added: "The disappointing thing is, like I say, for me Liverpool first half fair play to them and to Kenny were a better team than us, they played much better than us, created good chances and Thomas made some very, very good saves.

"Second half was more even-stevens, the disappointing thing is we're sat here talking about three incidents again that are very, very contentious that have gone against us and gone for Liverpool."

Liverpool Ready To Step Up Chase For Defender

Liverpool is ready to step up their chase for long-term Arsenal target Jan Vertonghen, according to Footy Bunker.

The versatile Ajax player can player in a number of positions including centre-back, left-back and defensive midfield – something which may appeal to Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish with the Reds yet to keep a clean sheet at home this season.

Vertonghen, 24, has been heavily linked with Arsenal in the past with rumours even suggesting Belgian team mate Thomas Vermaelen has convinced the player to sign for the Gunners.

However, if Liverpool is ready to make their move this coming January then they could beat Arsenal to the signature.

Henderson Admits Being Too Cautious For Liverpool

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson says he is looking to start playing more adventurously to try and create chances for his team-mates.

The former Sunderland man has hardly set Anfield alight since his summer move, reported to be between £16- 20 million, and he says he is going to start playing more adventurously in an attempt to unlock defences.

Henderson told LFC Magazine: "It is important [to maintain possession] to a certain extent.

"Sometimes I can be a little bit cautious, if you like, in keeping the ball, playing a safe pass rather than an adventurous one. Sometimes I need to take more risks going forward.

"I definitely think I need to do that in games; look for the runners and give it quickly, those little balls through – create a chance for someone.

"At times I can be a little bit safe but I know with hard work and listening, I'll get better."

The 21-year-old knows all about the pressures of playing for a big team having been a regular for Sunderland, but he admits Liverpool is a massive step up.

He continued: "Liverpool's got huge expectation. Sunderland's a very big club as well - you only have to see the size of the stadium and the passion of the supporters on the street to understand that.

"At Liverpool, it's even higher, with the history, the trophies and the players that have been here. I don't think that affects the players at all, though.

"The manager's judgement is second to none and he wouldn't have brought any of us here if he didn't feel we could deal with it. It's as I thought it would be. There's massive pressure here. It's all about how you deal with it. Of course it will be difficult at times but if you react in the right way, it's fine.

"A lot of football is in the mind and I know that I'm strong enough to continue believing in myself. As a player, I just concentrate on what I need to do."

Downing Eyes Last Hurrah For Fab

Stewart Downing hopes England can give manager Fabio Capello a good send-off by winning the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine next summer.

Italian boss Capello, who took charge of England in 2008, is set to step down after the Euros when his contract with the Three Lions expires.

England international Downing hopes his side can ensure Capello exits on a high note by claiming success at the Euros after a disappointing World Cup campaign last year.

"It's sad to see any manager leave or any player retire in that circumstance," Downing, who was speaking on behalf of the England Footballers Foundation at an event at Knowsley Safari Park, told Sky Sports News.

"So I think the best way if Fabio does leave after the Euros is to go out on a winning way and hopefully we can progress and try and win."

Liverpool midfielder Downing has been impressed by the way Capello has rallied his squad following their disappointment in South Africa last summer.

"I think we recovered really well from the World Cup disappointment and all the players stuck together," he added.

"Obviously the manager has stayed on and got us as a tight unit and playing as a team together.

"There's been a great improvement since the World Cup and we've got to take that onto the big stage at the Euros and perform."

Morgan On The Mark In Reserves Win

Liverpool Reserves secured their first victory of the season with a 3-1 success over Chelsea at the Academy on Wednesday afternoon.

An impressive first-half performance from the Reds saw Raheem Sterling give them a deserved lead when his shot from distance was deflected into the back of the net.

The winger then turned provider, sending in a low cross which was tapped in by Adam Morgan from close range to give the hosts a two-goal advantage heading into the break.

Sterling claimed another assist shortly after half-time when his pass allowed Conor Coady to spring the Chelsea offside trap and coolly convert.

Aliu Djalo netted a consolation for the visitors late on, but Liverpool were able to see out the contest to claim a well-deserved three points.

'It's A Dream To Be Here'

Liverpool's Chinese trialists have spoken of their great pride at showcasing their talent with one of the world's biggest clubs.

Long Chen, 16, and Chen Xiao Mao, 14, are in the final hours of their week-long spell in Kirkby having made a good impression with the youth-base's coaching staff.

The midfield pair has lived every young boy's dream over the course of the past seven days, as well as enjoying the unique Anfield atmosphere at the Reds' Barclays Premier League clash with Norwich City.

It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one they will both cherish forever - regardless of whether the club decide to help shape their future.

Long said: "This is the first time I have had the opportunity to come and learn about football in one of the world's best footballing countries. I will treasure my time here a great deal.

"Obviously, everyone back home is excited about my opportunity. It is great for a player like myself to have the chance to improve in this situation. During this trial I've learned a lot, however, what has impressed me the most is that everything done here is very professional.

"Everyone has been very friendly, warm and welcoming to us.

"If I can remain in Liverpool's plans for the future it will be my life's most important turning point."

Long's words were echoed by Chen, who feels he gave a good account of himself despite the issue of the language barrier.

He said: "The time we have been at Liverpool has not been long but everything has been wonderful. I have to say my deepest impression was watching the first team play. The atmosphere was incredible.

"My confidence at the beginning of the trial was perhaps lacking a bit but I think it is getting better and I now feel I can make an impact.

"We don't speak much English but we have used hand gestures to communicate. We have watched what is being done in the training drills and copied it. Overall it has been an incredible experience for both of us.