Saturday, 17 August 2013

LIVE: Liverpool v Stoke - follow the opening match of the new Premier League season as it happened from Anfield

LIVE: Liverpool v Stoke - follow the opening match of the new Premier League season as it happened from Anfield

Liverpool passed Stoke out of the game for the bulk of the game and got the breakthrough before half-time.
But Stoke came out fighting in the second half.
Mark Hughes' team threw everything at Liverpool's defence before they won a penalty through a Daniel Agger handball. Jon Walters stepped up for Stoke but Mignolet parried it away before Kenwyne Jones saw his rebound attempt denied. 
In the end, Sturridge's long-range strike was enough to secure the victory as Liverpool were unable to extend their lead - no thanks to in-form Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Alex Horlock
Host commentator
Full-time debriefing
So there you have it. Liverpool deserved that win and would have been a couple of goals clear had it not been for the sensational Asmir Begovic. 

Coutinho was a delight when breaking forward for Liverpool but no matter what he created in the second half, Rodgers' teams couldn't beat the Bosnia keeper for a second time. 

When Simon Mignolet was finally called upon again at the other end, he stood and delivered. A smart penalty save followed by an instinctive stop when the ball bounced back into the box ensured Liverpool took all three points on the first day of the Premier League season. 
Sportsmail's Dominic King on Simon Mignolet
'He has a massive challenge to fill Pepe Reina’s gloves but, after a shaky start, he has made some telling contributions, not least that match changing one.
'The noise inside Anfield is incredible, been like a cup tie atmosphere. If this is an indication of what lies in store for the season, we are not going to be disappointed.'
Steven N'Zonzi escapes a red
93min: Already on a yellow card, Steven N'Zonzi mixes it up with Coutinho and Lucas Leiva. 

After dragging Coutinho around by his shirt he claws at Lucas' head as the Brazilian pushes him away. Silly boy. But a lucky one. 
89min: There was another save too. As the ball bounced back into play from Mignolet's stop, Kenwyne Jones is first on the scene. 

From a tight angle, he fires at goal. Mignolet is up again and keeps it out. 
Good guess: Jon Walters saw his penalty saved late in the game
What a save! Simon Mignolet gets down to his right and keeps Jon Walters' penalty out.  
Loving it: Luis Suarez watched the match with his family from the stands
88min: Daniel Agger attacks a cross and has his hand above his head. The ball hits it and referee Martin Atkinson points to the spot. 
What a tackle!
84min: This Liverpool team have a real Brendan Rodgers feel to them now. They pass and pass and pass - at times too much though. Another nice move ends abruptly when Coutinho slides in Jordan Henderson. 

The centre midfielder can't shoot in time though as Erik Pieters slides across to put out the fire. 
Sportsmail's Mark Ryan at Anfield
'Anfield is getting just a little bit nervous now, you can feel it in the air. After all those chances, there is still only a goal in it - and the Liverpool fans are understandably tense.'
Begovic makes another save!
80min: Mark Hughes may need a few players before the transfer window closes, but he certainly doesn't need a goalkeeper. 

Asmir Begovic has been outstanding. First he makes an incredible stop from a Steven Gerrard free-kick, then he keeps out two more shots from the resulting corner.

What a performance. It's remarkable Liverpool have even beaten him at all today. 
Sportsmail's Dominic King at Anfield
'It would be wrong to say that Liverpool are struggling but there is definitely a sense that they are running out of steam and Stoke, if they play with enough gumption and belief, could easily make the final 15 minutes problematic for the home side.

'They have had a couple of moments from set pieces to cause some anxiety and Anfield regulars have seen this kind of game numerous times over the last few years: Liverpool dominating, not getting their rewards and then having to hang on at the end.'
Kolo Toure picks up a yellow card
74min: Kolo Toure had a habit of doing this while at Manchester City. The Ivorian likes a wander. 

He bursts forward with the ball at his feet and, when he realises he isn't being closed down, he fires from range. It goes wide and Toure goes back. 

Brendan Rodgers might have a little word now and tell him to stay put for the last 15. They are only one goal up, after all. 
71min: Liverpool change - Raheem Sterling comes on for Iago Aspas

Liverpool's new signing has looked lively and might have scored in the first half had Asmir Begovic not been in such fine form. He gets a standing ovation from the home crowd. 
Sportsmail's Dominic King at Anfield
'It is almost two years to the day since Jordan Henderson was thrust into the spotlight at Anfield following his £16million move from Sunderland but the young man playing now bears no resemblance to the one who is making an impact here.

'He told Sportsmail in an interview published on Friday how this “has to be my time” and he has impressed today. With better fortune, he would have had two goals already.'
67min: There's been so much pressure from Liverpool but they haven't been able to convert. Stoke have got the ball now and are playing a bit of football.

Robert Huth goes up for a free-kick, it ping-pongs around the penalty area and falls to the centre back. He blasts it into the legs of Daniel Agger. It bounces off the Dane and into the arms of Simon Mignolet. 
Nice touch: Peter Crouch holds off two Liverpool players
63min: Liverpool fans will be wondering how on earth they haven't scored another one early in this half.

Jordan Henderson is getting forward at the right time and chances are falling to him. A loose ball drops to his feet in the box and he pulls the trigger. 

His left-footed strike finally beats Begovic but it doesn't beat the post. The ball comes out ans Stoke are still in this one. 
62min: Stoke changes - Jermaine Pennant is coming on for Matthew Etherington and Charlie Adam is coming on for Glen Whelan
61min: Daniel Sturridge steams down the left as he chases another Coutinho pass. 

His first touch is a poor one and he carries the ball too wide for the shot. His attempt is parried for a corner. 

From the set-piece, Iago Aspas gets on the end of Steven Gerrard's cross but his header goes wide. 
Crowd watch
Sportsmail columnist Jamie Carragher is in the stands at Anfield. 
In attendance: Jamie Carragher turned out to watch his former club play
Liverpool go close again!
53min: Jordan Henderson is denied by a stunning save from Asmir Begovic. Coutinho creates the opening again for Sturridge, but the England man fluffs his lines.

The ball falls to Henderson, who strikes it first time towards the top corner. But Begovic is quick as a flash and parries it away with his right hand. Great save.

Will Liverpool rue the missing of these chances?
Sportsmail's Mark Ryan at Anfield
'Both defences look flimsy. Both attacks look dangerous. What does that mean for the season? Stoke might have enough going forward to survive, but Liverpool might be too vulnerable to secure the Champions League qualification they crave.

'Just a very early impression - and of course Liverpool haven't even conceded yet, so the stats don't back me up. But Liverpool rode their luck a little too much during that action-packed first-half for home comfort. '
Looking good: Brendan Rodgers watches his Liverpool team take the lead at Anfield
Crowd watch
Geoff Cameron is bundled over the hoardings and into the crowd by Liverpool left back Jose Enrique.

He falls into the Liverpool fans. Instead of a load of abuse, they give him a helping hand. A nice touch from the Liverpool supporters. 
Sportsmail's Mark Ryan at Anfield
'So here we go for the second half. City manager Manuel Pellegrini was asked to show his lounge pass at half time. He smiled and produced it obligingly, resisting the temptation to say: 'Don't you know who I am?"'

Coutinho goes close!
47min: This guy looks good this season. He leads the attack again and could square the ball but shoots from an angle. His shot beats Asmir Begovic but doesn't arc back inside the Stoke keeper's post in time. 

Another nice move led by the Brazilian, but maybe he should have given that one to a team-mate. 
46min: Mark Hughes' men looks reinvigorated after the break. Can they turn this one around though? It's a big ask with this Anfield crowd on top form.
Over you go: Steven N'Zonzi takes down Coutinho
Half-time debriefing:
Liverpool have been on top this half and deserve to be in front. They've looked by far the better team for 40 minutes. After Sturridge scored Stoke came out fighting but couldn't make the breakthrough to equalise. 

Liverpool have improved as a team over summer and the signings - Aspas, Toure - have looked like good additions. Stoke on the other hand look a little muddled. 

Hughes wants them to play neat, passing football, but they are largely players brought in by his predecessor Tony Pulis. 
Nice work: Daniel Sturridge celebrates his goal before half-time
45min: Here's a graphical representation of Sturridge's opener. Our new Match Zone has all this here.
Liverpool are depicted in white, with Stoke in black. The green arrow represents Sturridge's strike
43min: Liverpool are good value for their lead, but Stoke have woken up a bit after 40-plus minutes of being pumeled. 

They break forward and Jon Walters forces a smart save from Simon Mignolet with a powerful drive.
Sportsmail's Mark Ryan
'Luis Suarez appears to be trying to get his daughter Delfina to drop off to sleep in his arms. We all know the atmosphere at Anfield isn't quite what it used to be, but isn't that a little too optimistic?'

MailOnline Match Zone
Stoke fans may be singing about passing the ball but their team is being out-passed by Liverpool – 207- 152

Why not check out our Match Zone here?
37min: Well there it is. Daniel Sturridge gets the ball on the edge of the Stoke box and - for the first time today - isn't closed down by a pack of Stoke players. 

Robert Huth dithers, allowing the former Chelsea striker to pull the trigger. He takes the opportunity and drills a low left-footed effort into the bottom corner. 
Liverpool go close again!
35min: Coutinho creates another chance to break the deadlock, but this time it's Iago Aspas who fails to take it.

Coutinho puts his team-mate through on Asmir Begovic's goal, but Aspas can't beat the Bosnian goalkeeper. He makes himself big and Aspas' shot ricochets off his leg and away to safety. 
Manuel Pellegrini pictured by Sportsmail photographer Ian Hodgson
Sportsmail snapper Ian Hodgson has his eyes on the stands, and has seen Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini at the back of his box...
Comfortable? Manuel Pellegrini sits at the back of his box to watch the game
29min: We almost had an early (the first) contender for goal of the season. Jose Enrique bursts forward from the left-back position.

He links up with Coutinho, who squares to Aspas, who then slips the ball back into Enrique inside the box. He's through on goal and should put the ball in the back of the net. But he's off balance and hits the ball into the palms of Asmir Begovic.

Great move but a shame about the finish. 
Mixing it up: Kolo Toure attacks a Liverpool corner early in the first half
Sportsmail's Dominic King at Anfield
'Noticeable to see the difference of the way Stoke are operating under Mark Hughes compared to Tony Pulis. It’s certainly being appreciated by their supporters – “We’re Stoke City! We play on the floor!” is the chant – but how effective will it be?

'Stoke never struggled to deal with set plays but Steven Gerrard’s deliveries are causing them significant problems.

'Liverpool, having ridden their luck when Robert Huth crashed a shot against the bar, have bossed the last 10 minutes and with better fortune would be leading.' 

20min: Coutinho looks like he's improved over the summer. He showed his talents on a number of occasions last season but he seems to have polished his game.

He nips in from the left, beats his man then slides a beautiful little ball into the path of Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool captain is always stretching and can't get enough purchase on his shot. 

Asmir Begovic gathers the ball with ease. They'll want to keep an eye on the Brazilian playmaker.
Hawk-Eye watch

17min: It should also be noted that Hawk-Eye is being tested this afternoon. Although if everyone keeps hitting the bar I don't think it will be needed. 

On the pitch, Stoke put together a nice sequence of play before Geoff Cameron slings a ball towards Peter Crouch. He's crowded out between two Liverpool defenders and hits the deck.

Stoke fans give a limp appeal but I think they knew that would have been a soft one.
In attendance: Luis Suarez took his seat to watch his team-mates

13min: And again! Both No 4s have hit the bar now. Kolo Toure gets forward for a Liverpool header and plants a beautiful header straight onto the woodwork. Not quite, but the pressure is building.

11min: Steven Gerrard puts a lovely ball in the area. Daniel Sturridge is wide open and sticks the ball into the back of the net. 

But the flag is up, and the goal is chalked off. A good decision.
Sportsmail's Dominic King at Anfield
11min: 'IF this fixture had been taking place midway through the season, the chances are the atmosphere would be a little humdrum. This afternoon, though, there is a real crackle around Anfield. You’ll Never Walk Alone was belted out by the home supporters before kick-off, while the travelling Stoke fans have made their voices heard too. A funny little interlude has just taken place in the directors’ box also.

'Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has come to take in the game but there is someone sitting in the seat he has been allocated. A place had now been found for him at the back of the box.'

8min: So close from Stoke! After some Liverpool pressure they managed to braek through Jeff Cameron. Liverpool can't clear their lines from the resulting corner and it falls to Robert Huth.

The big German smashes the ball, it looks like it's in but it crashes back of the bar and out. 
As expected, Liverpool are on the front foot so far. 

Coutinho and Aspas are leading the Liverpool charge in the first five minutes and are pressing hard for the breakthrough. 

No such luck though as Coutinho runs into Ryan Shawcross in the penalty area and the ball is cleared. 

If you're paying by the letter, new signing Iago Aspas will be a pricey name to have on the back of your shirt. Not content with the simple 'ASPAS' he's gone the full nine yards with 'IAGO ASPAS'.

That said, Norwich fans will be paying a premium for Van Wolfswinkel too...
One last thing...

You'll Never Walk Alone is being belted out over the PA system. Stoke fans try to sing over the top, but are drowned out when the chorus kicks in. 

Meanwhile, according to Daily Mail's Dominic King, Andy Wilkinson will replace Wilson on the bench for Stoke.

Wilson Palacios pulls out of the Stoke City squad

Stoke midfielder Wilson Palacios has pulled out of Stoke's squad. He was feeling unwell during the warm up and has withdrawn. Marc Wilson will take his place.
More on Luis Suarez...

The Mail on Sunday's Mark Ryan has asked the club whether Luis Suarez's walk around the pitch - in a club training top - was staged.

'Liverpool insisted that Luis Suarez' walk round the pitch in a Liverpool shirt before the match against Stoke was not staged.

'We don't choreograph things that closely, I just heard about it,' said a Liverpool spokesman.

'Suarez arrived at Anfield at 11.30am and disappeared into the stadium through a side-entrance. Within minutes he was carrying his daughter Delfina around the perimeter of the Anfield playing surface, while wearing his Liverpool shirt.

'If it was a spontaneous charm offensive, designed to test the water of the Liverpool supporters, signs were encouraging.

'The controversial Uruguayan received warm applause from Reds fans, though he had to endure a few boos and "diver" taunts from Stoke's travelling faithful.

'The unscheduled "lap of honour" was certainly not the sort of action you would associate with a man still agitating strongly for a move.

'Suarez seems to have made his peace with Brendan Rogers and that's why he was allowed to train with the squad on Friday.

'But there could yet be a late twist to the saga, with Arsenal and Real Madrid still interested in the striker.

'For now, Suarez has to sit out matches, with six weeks of his ban still to serve. He joined his family in a players' box to watch the Stoke match, content with his latest move to seek acceptance after an ugly, restless summer.'
Weather watch

It wouldn't feel quite right without a splash of rain in the North West, and it's absolutely pelting it down at Anfield. 
Brendan Rodgers on Luis Suarez

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on Luis Suarez's situation.

'I think I said in the press conference that Luis Suarez is obviously banned from playing and out until September. Out of respect for all the other players that have been outstanding for me, I am not going to mention any more on Luis Suarez. The main thing is he's back in the group and smiling.'


Liverpool fans out there are sure to want to read Jamie Carragher's latest column in today's Daily Mail. He sheds some light on the influence on Manchester United's now-legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. 

I know we're here for the Premier League KO, but BT Sport's Premier League debut is an event in itself. 

Tony Pulis just gave some fantastic insight into his tactics to beat Liverpool last season. Stoke earmarked Martin Skrtel as the weakest defender in possession and sought to close him down whenever he was on the ball. It worked of course, Stoke won 3-1 at the Britannia last term. 
Happy return? Suarez wore Liverpool colours as he walked on the pitch
Make way! Luis Suarez walks through the crowds before the match
BT Sport debut

The first game of the Premier League season is being covered by Sky Sports' biggest competitors. 

And BT Sport is a far cry from the Sky studio. They've got huge, 10-foot screens with all the players on behind pundits Steve McManaman, Tony Pulis and Owen Hargreaves. 

Former England No 1 David James was also just interviewing Asmir Begovic and Simon Mignolet before the match. He didn't ask a single question about football but it was still a compelling watch to see goalkeepers chewing the fat before a big game. 

Mark Hughes takes charge of his first Premier League game as Stoke manager... and he's being watched by predecessor Pulis. 
Luis Suarez watch...

Unsettled striker Luis Suarez, fresh from training with the first-team yesterday, walked on the pitch before kick-off. 

He was on the turf with his daughter. Mark Ryan, of the Mail on Sunday, is at Anfield and has his say.

'Luis Suarez wore his Liverpool shirt and carried his daughter in his arms as he walked around the Anfield pitch before the match against Stoke.

'The controversial Uruguayan received warm applause from the few Liverpool fans who had arrived early enough to witness the unscheduled "lap of honour."

'Stoke fans booed and made diving gestures, but Suarez will be reassured by the positive reaction of Reds' supporters.

'He then returned to a players' box on the other side of Anfield to the changing rooms, from which vantage point he was expected to watch the match.

'The fact that Suarez was wearing his Liverpool shirt will be interpreted by many as a sign that he is willing to wear the club colours this season, once the last six weeks of his ban expire.'
Luis Suarez is at Anfield
Familiar face: Luis Suarez walked on the Anfield pitch before the match
Stoke starting XI is in
And here's the starting line-up for the visitors. It looks a lot like a Tony Pulis team to me...

Stoke starting XI: Begovic, Pieters, Huth, Shawcross, Cameron, Whelan, N'Zonzi, Palacios, Etherington, Walters, Crouch

Liverpool team is in!
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the big kick-off. The Premier League curtain-raiser is Liverpool against Stoke at Anfield. 

And the Liverpool starting XI is in:

Mignolet, Johnson, Enrique, Toure, Agger, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Aspas, Sturridge

Subs: Jones, Sterling, Wisdom, Ibe, Allen, Borini, Luis Alberto.

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