Gohouri grabs point for Latics

A fifth successive victory would have put the Reds within four

points of fourth-placed Chelsea but despite dominating two-thirds

of the game they failed to press home their advantage. Raul

Meireles impressed once again, extending his remarkable goalscoring

spree to five in his last six matches, but at the other end Jose

Reina’s goal was breached for the first time in 463 minutes when

Gohouri prodded home from close range. However, another positive

note for Reds boss Kenny Dalglish was January signing Luis Suarez,

on his first start since joining from Ajax. He showed why the

Merseysiders parted with £22.8million with a display full of

energy, invention and determination. Had the Uruguay international

enjoyed more fortune his side would have won the game, having had a

shot to make it 2-0 rebound off a post before the interval and a

second-half free-kick cannon back off the crossbar. Wigan, to give

them credit, enjoyed a good spell after the interval which

culminated in their goal and ensured Liverpool’s record against

them now stands at just two victories in their last seven meetings.

Suarez was into the action early, having a fourth-minute shout for

a penalty turned down after a quick counter-attack from a corner

and combining well down the right with Dirk Kuyt, who himself had a

shot from the edge of the penalty area which had Ali Al Habsi

grasping to hang on at the second attempt. But the Wigan goalkeeper

could do nothing about Liverpool’s opener in the 24th minute as

Meireles continued his scoring run. Fabio Aurelio’s cross from the

left byline was partially deflected by the head of Gohouri but only

as far as the Portugal international 16 yards out and he smashed

home a right-foot volley . Three minutes later Suarez almost

doubled the lead with a manoeuvre reminiscent of the now-departed

Fernando Torres. He wriggled his way into the left edge of the

penalty area before opening his body to shoot right-footed past Al

Habsi only to see the ball rebound off the far post. The Uruguayan

was a willing outlet for Liverpool and Gohouri was booked on the

half-hour for clattering into the back of him. Wigan were in danger

of being overwhelmed as Meireles continued to find space in and

around their penalty area, blazing over from range on one occasion.

The closest the Latics came to producing a response was when winger

Charles N’Zogbia fired in a low free-kick which Reina claimed

easily late in the first half. Meireles was replaced by David Ngog

four minutes into the second half, with the Portugal midfielder

heading straight down the tunnel to receive treatment. But Suarez

showed no signs of fading in only his second match since December 8

and Antolin Alcaraz had to resort to a foul to prevent him racing

into the penalty area, for which he was booked. But Liverpool’s

inability to seize complete control of the game and score a second

gave the visitors hope and the threat of an equaliser turned into a

reality in the 65th minute. N’Zogbia curled an inswinging

left-footed cross from the right which found its way to Gohouri who

stabbed home from two yards out at the far post. There was a

suspicion of offside but it was only relevant if Alcaraz had got

the slightest of touches on the way through and it was impossible

to tell. That was the first goal Reina had conceded in five matches

and it threatened to undermine all Liverpool’s previous hard work

in putting together a run of four successive victories. Suarez

continued to impress and when Caldwell fouled him on the edge of

the area in the 77th minute he picked himself up to curl a shot

over the wall but onto the crossbar. The Uruguayan, seemingly

almost single-handedly at times, tried desperately to find the

winner but found Latics captain Caldwell in particularly resolute

form. Aurelio fired a shot just over, which was followed by Martin

Skrtel’s header in added time as the hosts failed to find a way

through. The result put a check, for now, on lofty ambitions to

break back into the top four but despite dropping points Dalglish

will still harbour hopes they can still pose a challenge later in

the season. Unfortunately for Wigan, they remain in the bottom

three.