Stoke came from behind to beat a disappointing Liverpoolside 3-1 in an enthralling Premier League encounter at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The game got off to a flying start when Ryan Shawcross brought down Luis Suarez in the penalty area inside the first minute allowing Steven Gerrard to step up and slot the ball home calmly from 12 yards. But the response from the hosts was instant, as John Walters equalised just minutes later.
The home side then went on to take the lead, as Kenwyne Jones met a Matthew Etherington corner with a powerful header, before the Potters soon went two up, as Jones flicked a long throw on to Walters, who scored his second of the match.
Tony Pulis made one change to the side that drew with Tottenham last time out, with Michael Kightly given the nod at the expense of Ryan Shotton on the right flank. Brendan Rodgers stuck with the same starting XI that thrashed Fulham 4-0, leaving Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen on the substitutes’ bench.
The visitors found themselves with a chance to take the lead inside the first minute, as Suarez cut into the penalty area from the right wing and was brought down by Shawcross. Gerrard stepped up and drove the ball low and hard into the bottom left-hand corner of the net past a helpless Asmir Begovic.
But Stoke were instant in their reply, gaining an equaliser just minutes later. A long ball from the hosts’ defence found Kenwyne Jones, who towered above Daniel Agger to flick the ball into the Liverpool 18-yard box leaving Walters to latch onto the ball and slot smartly past Pepe Reina.
Pulis’ men then took the lead, after a Matthew Etherington corner was met by a towering Jones, who evaded the attentions of Agger and Gerrard with ease. Glen Johnson was the man on the line, but pressure from Shawcross prevented the right-back from making the clearance.
The visitors came close to equalising at the beginning of the second period, as substitute Raheem Sterling raced passed Shawcross and crossed towards Suarez. The Uruguayan did well to escape Robert Huth at the near post, but could only divert the ball onto the outside of the post.
The Potters then added to their lead, after a long throw from Geoff Cameron was flicked on to Walters by the impressive Jones. The Ireland international finished emphatically, taking the chance quickly by volleying the ball into the top corner.
Shawcross nearly conceded a second penalty, as Downing tumbled under a challenge from the centre-back just outside the penalty area. The former Aston Villa winger took the free kick himself, but failed to test Asmir Begovic after blasting straight into a crowd of players.
Liverpool never really looked like getting back into the game, however, as a combination of determination and a fantastic work-rate ensured the Stoke side kept possession and continued to threaten the visitors’ goal until the final whistle.