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FA Cup

  • March 18, 2012
  • • 12:00 PM
  • • Anfield, Liverpool
  • Referee: K. Friend
  • • Attendance: 43962
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Liverpool 2-1 Stoke City: Suarez and Downing on target to fire Reds into FA Cup semifinals

Reds through to the last four of the competition after 20 million pound signing nets first goal for the club after former player Peter Crouch had scored equalizer for the Potters

Liverpool advanced to the semifinals of the FA Cup after beating Stoke 2-1 at Anfield thanks to strikes from Luis Suarez and Stewart Downing as it kept alive its pursuit of a cup double.

The Uruguayan gave the Reds the lead with a great right-footed strike in the 22nd minute following a good attacking move by the home side.

However they were pegged back minutes later by the former player Peter Crouch who headed home from close range in controversial circumstances.

Downing, who hadn’t scored since his 20 million pound move from Aston Villa in the summer, finally got on the scoresheet when he fired a powerful shot past Sorensen to send his team into the semifinals of the competition.

Liverpool made one change from the team that beat Everton in midweek with Maxi Rodriguez coming into the starting lineup replacing Jordan Henderson, while Andy Carroll and Suarez continued their partnership upfront.

Tony Pulis made four changes to his Stoke side that lost at Chelsea last weekend. Former Liverpool striker Crouch returned along with Thomas Sorensen, Glenn Whelan and Matt Etherington. They replaced Asmir Begovic, Salif Diao, Ricardo Fuller and Kenwyne Jones in the starting lineup.

The Reds started the game well and had a good opportunity to take the lead after just three minutes when an unmarked Maxi headed just wide of the post from a dangerous Steven Gerrard free kick from the left wing.

After a quiet opening 20 minutes, Liverpool sprang to life and took the lead through Suarez, who picked the ball up in the Stoke half and played a lovely one-two with Maxi before striking at goal and his curling shot flew into the bottom corner of the net, giving Sorensen no chance.

The Potters responded immediately and were level within minutes through Crouch who headed home Etherington’s corner from close range beating Reina with a bullet header after he peeled off Carroll, who neglected his marking duties inside the area.

There was controversy in the goal as the decision to award the corner in the first place was proved to be incorrect as the ball had originally deflected off Ryan Shawcross before going out of play behind the Liverpool goal.

Stoke had an excellent opportunity to take the lead when Dean Whitehead broke upfield and slid a wonderful through ball to Jonathan Walters, beating Martin Skrtel for pace but couldn’t put his effort on target after breaking into box.

Crouch’s goal knocked the Reds out of their good early rhythm however late in the half they rallied and came close to regaining their advantage as Suarez’s chipped effort was well saved by Sorensen and a Gerrard free kick went just over the bar.

Kenny Dalglish’s side came out in the second half reinvigorated and was within a few inches of taking the lead through Suarez as he headed Gerrard’s free kick just wide of the post with Sorensen beaten.

The Reds began to dominate possession and got their reward when Downing struck in the 58th minute after he cut inside from the right and took advantage of a deflection which knocked the ball into his stride and made no mistake lashing the ball into the net with a ferocious left-footed shot.

Liverpool was beginning to up the ante and could have gone further ahead if not for a good save from Sorensen who dove well to his right to stop a Suarez effort from distance, as the ball looked to be creeping into the corner.

Stoke tried to get back into the tie as Pulis added more firepower upfront by bringing on Cameron Jerome but the Potters failed to find that final bit of quality needed to get an equalizer as deliveries from Jermaine Pennant and Etherington were disappointing.

Dalglish’s side was comfortable in defense as the Potters threw everything at it towards the end of the game, including several long throws into the box, as they held onto to win to send them to Wembley in the last four of the competition.

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