Sturridge fires Liverpool to 1-0 win over Stoke
Simon Mignolet saved a late penalty on his Liverpool debut to
secure a 1-0 win over Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday, with
Daniel Sturridge grabbing the winner to prove there’s life to the
team’s strike-force after Luis Suarez.
Sturridge smashed home from 25 yards in the 37th minute to score
the first goal of the season in the English top flight, but Stoke
was given a golden opportunity to snatch an undeserved point when
Daniel Agger handled the ball in the area in the 88th minute.
Jon Walters’ penalty was saved by Mignolet low down to the
goalkeeper’s right, however, and Liverpool could celebrate its
first opening-day win at Anfield since 2001.
”You always pick the corner to go to and today I picked the
right one,” said Mignolet, who had some nervous moments between
the posts in his first competitive start for Liverpool since
joining from Sunderland in June. ”I kept a clean sheet, which is
the important thing.
”We didn’t manage to get a second goal but we deserved to
The unsettled Suarez watched the game from an executive box high
in the stands as he served the fifth match of a 10-game ban for
biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a league fixture
last season. He may not have played even if he had been available
after going public recently with his desire to leave Liverpool, in
the wake of an offer of more than 40 million pounds ($62.5 million)
Suarez’s attitude has upset Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
but the striker’s return to first-team training Friday suggested
their relationship has been patched up. The Uruguay international
attended this match, taking to the field an hour before kickoff in
his Liverpool strip and carrying daughter Delfina in his arms to a
ripple of applause.
He then took his place in the stands with his family and looked
on as Sturridge collected a short pass from Iago Aspas – another
debutant, alongside Mignolet and Kolo Toure – and fired a shot
through the legs of defender Robert Huth and into the corner of the
Stoke was showing no discernible change in style or approach
under new manager Mark Hughes than there was under old boss Tony
Pulis, who left early in the offseason, and Liverpool should have
been many more goals ahead by halftime.
As was often the case last season, Liverpool created a string of
chances but a mixture of poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping by
Asmir Begovic kept Stoke in the game. In the first half, Toure
headed against the crossbar, and Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique
were also denied, while Philippe Coutinho curled just wide and
Henderson struck a shot against the post after the break.
At the other end, Huth volleyed against the bar in the eighth
minute but the visitors were chasing shadows for much of a
Despite all of Liverpool’s dominance, though, it needed
Mignolet’s penalty save – and then a block from the rebound off
Kenwyne Jones – to preserve all three points.
”It’s always a concern as a manager when you dominate the game
so much and create so many chances but today we only scored one,”
Rodgers said. ”I was so, so pleased for the players because they
have worked tirelessly and starts our actual season on three
”The fluidity and flow of our game was good, our passing and
combination play was excellent. I thought our intensity from the
off was outstanding.”