Sunday, September 21, 2008

Liverpool 0-0 Stoke

Liverpool were left lamenting a second-minute disallowed goal after they were held to a goalless draw at home by newly promoted Stoke.
Steven Gerrard had the ball in the back of the net after 76 seconds from a free-kick - only for the goal to be controversially ruled out for offside.
Stoke continued to frustrate the home side as Thomas Sorensen saved Robbie Keane's 51st-minute strike.
And Andy Griffin's late goal-line clearance ensured the match was drawn.
After the heights of a 2-1 victory over rivals Manchester United last week, Liverpool will consider the solitary point a setback for their title ambitions, although they briefly took top spot in the Premier League before they were deposed by Arsenal.
The draw will be especially frustrating after they dominated the match from the first whistle.
Manager Rafael Benitez continued his rotation policy by resting Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva - who all began against Manchester United - with Fernando Torres, Andrea Dossena and Gerrard all returning to the starting XI.
With two goals in Liverpool's 2-1 Champions League win over Marseille on Tuesday, Gerrard needed one more to become the 16th player to net 100 goals for Liverpool.
And the England midfielder had the ball in the back of the net after just 76 seconds courtesy of an in-swinging free-kick - as well as a horrific goalkeeping error from Sorensen - only for the assistant referee to rule out the goal for offside against Dirk Kuyt.
Keane had the ideal chance to score his first goal in a red shirt since his £20m summer move from Tottenham on seven minutes, but his 10-yard shot sailed straight into the grateful hands of Sorensen.
The Dane was forced into a more taxing save when he palmed away Xabi Alonso's curling 20-yard strike on 28 minutes.
But for all their attacking endeavour and creativity, Liverpool failed to penetrate a obdurate and well-drilled Stoke defence intent on frustrating the home side's roll call of internationals.
Left-back Danny Higginbotham proved particularly stubborn, intercepting any dangerous cross inside Stoke's penalty area, while substitute centre-back Leon Cort - on for the injured Ibrahima Sonko - proved equally effective.
Liverpool began the second half brightly and Keane forced a low save from Sorensen after good work from Alvaro Arbeloa on 51 minutes.
The Spanish right-back was involved in another goal-scoring opportunity two minutes later, this time providing the cross for compatriot Torres, whose eight-yard header just evaded Sorensen's left-hand post.
But despite's Stoke's desperate rearguard action, Liverpool could not break the deadlock.
Torres - normally so clinical in front of goal - was denied his second of the season when his 12-yard shot deflected off the diving Cort for a corner.
With time ticking by, Benitez brought on Babel, who scored the winner against Manchester United, for winger Albert Riera in the hope of fresh attacking impetus.
But despite the red onslaught, Stoke held firm as Liverpool failed to capitalise on any of their numerous chances.
Jamie Carragher, Babel, Kuyt and Gerrard continued to bombard Sorensen's goal, but none could engineer a vital breakthrough as Stoke, who had Griffin to thank for an 88th-minute goal-line clearance with Torres lurking, recorded a valuable point at Anfield.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena, Kuyt, Gerrard, Alonso, Riera (Babel 65), Keane (Benayoun 73), Torres. Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Agger, Mascherano, Leiva Lucas, Degen.
Booked: Skrtel.

Stoke: Sorensen, Griffin, Abdoulaye Faye, Sonko (Cort 22), Higginbotham, Lawrence (Cresswell 66), Olofinjana, Diao, Delap, Kitson (Fuller 78), Sidibe. Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Whelan, Tonge, Wilkinson.
Booked: Fuller.
Att: 43,931
Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).


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