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August 17, 2013
• Anfield, Liverpool
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 44822
D. Sturridge 37'
Right, that's it from me in a superb game at Anfield. I've been Tom J Doyle, and stick with Goal for match reaction and the rest of today's Premier League action. Bye for now.
Both goalkeepers had eventful games: Simon Mignolet started poorly but saved the points for Liverpool with a late penalty save, while Asmir Begovic was fantastic throughout. What a debut for the young Anfield man!
That's it! What a start to the new Premier League season. Liverpool win 1-0, but both sides could have had a bagful. In the end Daniel Sturridge's sweet first-half strike has given Brendan Rodgers' side a 1-0 victory, but Mark Hughes will rue a late penalty miss by Jonathan Walters.
90' + 4'
Walters flicks the ball on to Jones but Mignolet is out to smother the ball - hearts in mouths...
90' + 3'
The home crowd are in full voice again with 'You'll Never Walk Alone' ringing out after Mignolet's heroics. They'll surely go top of the Premier League now...
90' + 2'
Coutinho denied by a deflection! The Brazilian shapes to finish from outside the box but the ball bobbles wide of the Begovic's left-hand post.
90' + 1'
Nzonzi really should be off as he grabs Lucas by the head - the Stoke player is already on a booking, but Atkinson is lenient and the Potters man stays on.
That is so, so poor from Jones on the rebound - it's an amazing double-stop from Mignolet, but the substitute finishes at the 'keeper's hip. Hughes will be pulling his hair out at the chance of a point wasted.
Penalty save Simon Mignolet
Missed Penalty Jonathan Walters
MIGNOLET SAVES! The keeper makes a trememdous double-stop and that is surely Stoke's last chance. Walters punts the ball low to the right and Mignolet plunges low to keep it out, and is up quickly to stop the rebound from Jones.
PENALTY TO STOKE! Agger handles the ball and Atkinson points to the spot. THe Dane flew through the air like Superman and it's a stone-wall spot-kick. Can Mignolet be the hero?
Another chance for Stoke to deliver a telling ball now - can Adam put in a top delivery?
Five minutes left here and despite that hair-raising Adam effort, Stoke have struggled to really test Mignolet in this half. THey'll need something special to take a point now.
STAT ATTACK: 7 - Asmir Begovic has already made seven saves today; more than he made in any single match last season in the Premier League (6). Change. (via @OptaJoe)
Liverpool are looking to hit Stoke on the break now as Pieters gets a good tackle in to deny the hosts a crossing chance.
WOW! Charlie Adam goes for goal from 50 yards here, and Mignolet has to scramble back to his line to tip the ball over. Welcome to Anfield, Simon...
Peter Crouch is leaving the action with Kenwyne Jones on for the last 10 minutes to try and rescue something for Stoke. Crouch gets a good reception from the home support, which is good to see.
Toure almost has the ball in the net from the resulting corner but the ball is deflected wide - how is this game still only 1-0?
Another top stop from Begovic! Gerrard does shoot, and only a great full-length dive from the Potters 'keeper to his top-left corner denies the Liverpool captain a fabulous goal.
Lovely skill from Sturridge here as he performs a few step-overs and leaves Huth for dead. THe Stoke defender pushes him over and Gerrard can line up a free-kick from 30 yards...
Toure punts the ball high and long out of Liverpool's box and the Stoke fans have a little fun by shouting "HOOF!" - how often do they get to do that?
Yellow Card Kolo Toure
Kolo Toure picks up Liverpool's first yellow card for a late, cynical slide to stop Pieters from progressing down the left flank.
Cameron wins a disputed throw and gets it quickly to Pennant, who loses the ball in a dribble before Caremon thumps a hopeless cross low which is cleared. That duo will have to get the ball into the box much more quickly than thay.
Ping! Sturridge thumps an effort at the Stoke goal from the left with his left boot, but the effort fizzes wide of Begovic's right-hand post. He could have look to his team-mates there, really.
Coutinho snaps at Huth's ankles in the Stoke box but he gets the ball away - the away side break well but Walters can't quite move the ball fluently enough and the attack breaks down. So frustrating for Hughes there.
It's Iago Aspas who makes way to a great ovation from the Anfield crowd, and Sterling is on to stretch the Potters' back line.
Raheem Sterling is warming up with 20 minutes to go - is he the one to put this game to bed for the hosts?
It's getting tasty now - Gerrard clears but the ball pings around the box, and the Liverpool captain wins a free-kick after getting whacked in the process of Huth having a shot. The Potters are sensing a way back into the game now.
Pennant goes around Enrique and the defender trips the Stoke man for a free-kick - set-piece time...
Substitute and ANOTHER former Liverpool man Charlie Adam plays a good-looking pass in for Walters, but Johnson is alert to the danger and cuts the ball out well. Sroke look more confident now.
World-class save from Begovic! Henderson bends a right-footed effort towards the far corner from the right of the box, but the Stoke stopper gets fingertips on it to push it onto the post. This is a stunning performance from the Bosnian.
Another former Liverpool player is on for Stoke now, with Jermaine Pennant on to change things up for the visitors
Aspas gets up to meet a cross, but he can only flick his header wide of Begovic's left-hand post. It's been a good Premier League debut so far from the Spaniard.
The latest news is that Wilson Palacios has gone to hospital - let's hope that the Stoke midfielder makes a quick recovery.
Stoke are in an advanced position for the first time in this half but can't work a crossing position - it's all well and good Begovic keeping them in the game, but Hughes' side really need to force the issue now.
Brilliant from Begovic! The ball falls for Jordan Henderson to curl a strike at goal from 16 yards, but the Stoke 'keeper sticks out a strong right hand and pushes the ball away. Terrific stuff yet again from the Bosnian.
It gets worse for Cameron as he tries to win the ball on the line and ends up in the Anfield crowd. The Liverpool fans help him out though, and we're off again. Lucky he didn't get a booking...
Cameron looks for a ball through to Walters down the line, but Daniel Agger is lighting-quick to slide in and cut the ball out expertly. That's why Barcelona want him, it seems...
Coutinho goes close! The midfielder does superbly to get away down the left wing and flies into the box before unleashing a lovley curling effort towqrds the far corner - but Begovic's goal is safe as it goes just wide.
We're back underway at Anfield - can Stoke find a way back into the game?
STAT ATTACK: 7 - Daniel Sturridge has scored seven goals in his last six Premier League appearances for Liverpool. Sharp. (via @OptaJoe)
The Potters have only threatened intermittently, but have still hit the woodwork, had an effort cleared off the line, and forced a brilliant save from Mignolet. Hughes will be disappointed with his side's intensity so far, but the hosts look weak at the back.
And that's half-time - what a great first 45 minutes in the 2013/14 Premier League season! We've had chances galore and a great goal from Daniel Sturridge, and Liverpool deservedly lead Stoke 1-0.
45' + 1'
Off the line! The free-kick goes out for a dubious corner and a Stoke player volleys at goal - the ball takes a deflection and bounces over Mignolet, but Liverpool rescue things and the score remains 1-0.
Lucas goes in the book here after giving away a silly free-kick out on the right - can Stoke level it?
Yellow Card Steven N'Zonzi
Top stop by Mignolet! The Liverpool 'keeper atones for his earlier wobbles as he flies to his left to keep out a fine 22-yard strike from Walters. That is a great, great save, and will do his confidence a world of good right in front of the Kop.
Five minutes till half-time here and Liverpool are in control. Stoke have hit the bar but really need to try and take the game to Rodgers' side. THat'll be difficult with the hosts looking so assured in possession though.
Assist Iago Aspas
Goal Daniel Sturridge
WHAT A GOAL! Liverpool finally get their goal as Sturridge finds Begovic's bottom left-hand corner with a glorious strike from 25 yards. Huth stood off the forward and he fizzed a low shot through the defender's legs. A well-deserved opener there, and a fitting way to open the new campaign.
Begovic denies Sturridge! The forward gallops down the right and past his man into the box, and pulls a cross-shot back across goal which the 'keeper yet again gets to.
Liverpool's build-up play has been thrilling at times, but without Suarez they're struggling to finish off their chances. The supporters will be hoping it's not the same story as last season.
What a miss! Coutinho threads Aspas through with a gorgeous pass and the Spaniard is clean through, but he can only finish straight at the onrushing Begovic. He should have tucked that away.
Coutinho seems to be to go-to player for Liverpool in advanced positions at the moment - a lot of responsibility rests on the 21-year-old's slight shoulders this season, but he has the talent to produce.
STAT ATTACK: 34 - Stoke mustered a Premier League low of just 114 shots on target last season. Shy. (via @OptaJoe)
Great save from Begovic! Coutinho dribbles from the wing and plays it to Enrique, who links beautifully with Aspas to put himself through - but the Stoke 'keeper smothers the low shot from eight yards out on the left. Gerrard then hits the rebound effort over from the edge of the box. Close...
Aspas goes down 25 yards out and wants a free-kick, but Atkinson waves play-on despite the 26-year-old's protests.
Matthew Etherington almost finds Walters with a cute pass, but it's cut out before any real danger. He'll be a threat today on that left flank though.
Philippe Coutinho is going to be a special player this season - he whips an effort at goals from 25 yards, but the curled shot is up and over Begovic's goal. Good idea from the Brazilian.
Gerrard creams a long-range ball across the field to...absolutely no-one, and it's out for a throw. Just a slight lull in play now after that frenetic opening.
Aspas almost scores! Coutinho weaves his way around the area before feeding the forward. THe ball is slightly too late for the Spaniard's run, but his slides a shot at goal - but Begovic is in the right place to claim it.
Simon Mignolet is not having a good day so far. He should've come for the ball in to Crouch moments ago, and now punts a clearance against the onrushing Nzonzi - but escapes. He'll have to sort out his nerves quickly.
Now then, Crouch goes down between Johnson and Toure as a long ball falls into the box - but Atkinson gives nothing. It would've been a very soft penalty anyway.
Former Anfield man Crouch is toiling up front, and looks to have done well to win the ball on the wing - but Atkinson penalises the forward for his sliding challenge. The striker sees the funny side, though.
That's good sportsmanship from Sturridge - he could well have gone down as Begovic flew out, but he would've also been risking a possible yellow card for simulation had he tumbled.
Close again! Sturridge runs in behind and rounds Begovic - he elects not to go down and crosses to the back-post from the byline, but a Stoke defender desperately volleys the ball clear acrobatically. This is why we love the Premier League!
So close for Liverpool! I told you Toure was getting forward well, and the defender crashes a header against the bar here. The ball falls again for Sturridge, but he whacks the ball over from about four yards. A great start here...
Goal! - No, it's offside! Gerrard whips in a wonderful ball and Sturridge buries a bullet header past Asmir Begovic, but the assistant correctly rules the forward's effort out as he was a yard ahead of play. Great call.
Johnson wins a free-kick 30 yards out on the right here...
Huth hits the bar! The ball is swung in to the back post after the corner and debutant Simon Mignolet is all over the place - the ball falls to the Stoke defender and he thumps a delicious volley at goal, but it crashes off the woodwork. So close to a shock opener...
Now then, Stoke break through Erik Pieters on the left and it's two on two; the full-back elects to pass rather than carry on into the box and the ball is blocked out for a corner...
Stoke clear the ball but it comes back in, and Liverpool win a corner. New signing Kolo Toure is getting himself into the thick of it.
Glen Johnson is covering a lot of ground down the right and cuts inside the box before seeing a left-ffoted shot deflected out. N'Zonzi gives away a free-kick on the wing now, and it's another chance for a set-peice from Gerrard.
Peter Crouch shows some lovely control to flick the ball onto Walters down the line, but Jose Enrique does well to msucle the forward out. Not an easy thing to do, that.
Lucas plays a cute ball down the line for Daniel Sturridge, but his chipped cut-back for Aspas isn't quite good enough. This is promising from the hosts though.
The ball in comes to nothing, but Liverpool are already pressing high up the pitch and putting pressure on Stoke. Rodgers seems to be pressing for an early goal.
Jack Cameron gives away a free-kick and Liverpool have a chance to swing in a teasing delivery now...
And we're off! Liverpool kick off with the full voice of the Kop behind them, and Lucas gives away a free-kick in the middle.
'You'll Never Walk Alone' is ringing out around the ground - other clubs may have bigger stadiums, but few have this atmosphere.
The teams are coming out of the tunnel, and the crowd is electric. We're close to kick-off now...
It's just been confirmed that Wilson Palacios will miss the game after falling ill during the warm-up. Mark Wilson will take his place in the team for Stoke - that's a headache Mark Hughes won't have wanted.
The rain is pouring down at Anfield, which should make for a tasty contest. Will each side be able to keep 11 players on the pitch in perfect conditions for sliding tackles? Will Martin Atkinson keep his cards in his pocket as the contest wears on? Let's hope for an entertaining contest regardless.
Can Brendan Rodgers' side get a top-four finish? Can Mark Hughes keep his new side up? So many questions will be raised over the course of the season, but we're only 15 minutes away from the first ball of the Premier League season being kicked.
Can you feel that? That is literal excitement in the air. I'm not even joking. It's all set up to be the most open season in years, and Brendan Rodgers said earlier that only Champions League football will do for the Reds. That'll be music to the fans' ears.
So there's no Luis Suarez for Liverpool, but the word is that the Uruguayan IS at Anfield today with his family, and he received big cheers in the car park from the home fans. But for now anyway we can forget transfer sagas, and focus on the important thing - the beautiful game itself.
Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters; Whelan, Nzonzi, Palacios, Etheringto; Walters, Crouch. Subs: Muniesa, Pennant, Jones, Wilson, Adam, Sorensen, Jerome.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Toure, Agger, Jose Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Henderson; Aspas, Sturridge, Coutinho.Subs: Brad Jones, Alberto, Allen, Borini, Sterling, Wisdom, Ibe.
Good afternoon and welcome to the 2013/14 Premier League season! I'm Tom J Doyle and I'll be guiding you through Liverpool vs Stoke at Anfield. We're less than half an hour away from kick-off at the first game of the season, so let's get some team news...
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