It was an absolutely cracking match at the Britannia Stadium today, where Liverpool outgunned a resilient Stoke side by 5 goals to 3.
The visitors went ahead inside of 5 minutes through the most fortunate of circumstances as Ryan Shawcross quite unluckily deflected an Aly Cissokho blaster past a helpless Jack Butland in the Stoke goal to give Liverpool an early advantage despite early pressure from the Potters.
Liverpool’s lead was doubled on 32 minutes via Luis Suarez, with the Uruguayan continuing his goal-poaching form by finishing past Butland, who was put in a precarious position by the Stoke defenders after a back pass header landed directly in no man’s land and was quickly swallowed up by Suarez.
Stoke desperately needed a goal before the break and they got one on 39 minutes through the big man up top, Peter Crouch, as the ex-Liverpool striker nodded home from nearly the top of the box with a beautiful directed header to get the Potters and their fans back into the match.
At 2-1, the match always had the potential to turn into a classic, and by my standards, it did on the stroke of halftime when Charlie Adam unleashed an absolute corker past Simon Mignolet into the bottom right corner to level the match at 2 against his former club. It was some shoddy work in the back that set up Adam, and the Scotsman made no mistake with the finish, a tracer bullet past the big Belgian that sent the Potteries into delirium with several rounds of “Delilah” sung around the ground following the goal.
One would think that the Liverpool squad received a stern talking to from Brendan Rogers at halftime, and if that was true, the talk appeared to work wonders as Liverpool quickly went 3-2 up in the 51st minute through a vintage Steven Gerrard penalty following a questionable penalty call after Raheem Sterling crumbled to a heap inside the 18 yard box.
The Reds continued on the attack and restored their 2 goal advantage on 71 minutes as Suarez bagged his brace via a succulent, finesse finish past Butland after he was tee’d up well by strike partner Daniel Sturridge, who returned to the Liverpool squad today following a spell on the bench as the result of a hamstring injury.
True to form though, Stoke City simply would not die and found late life on 85 minutes after Jonathan Walters somewhat fortunately prodded past a late-reacting Simon Mignolet of Liverpool to set up a real grandstand finish between the two sides at the Britannia.
The high drama subsided less than 2 minutes later though as Daniel Sturridge found the back of the net on his return for Liverpool following a wild series of events in which the Stoke ‘keeper Butland made a splendid stop onto the post before Sturrdge juggled the ball from his head, to chest, to feet where he volleyed home to surely seal the win for the Merseysiders.
The game still managed to somehow squeeze a bit more action into it though, as Stoke hit the bar TWICE in stoppage time as the desperately pushed for another late glimmer of hope. It just simply wasn’t to be though for Mark Hughes’ men, but that shouldn’t take away from the brave display and world-class football they put on Sunday evening as Liverpool and Stoke treated us to a real classic, that went the way of the Reds by a 5-3 score line, the epitome of English football at its finest.