Victory over Reading secured Liverpool’s first Premier League win at Anfield this season, Thanks to a 29th minute winner from Raheem Sterling.
|Teenager Sterling, who became the second youngest Liverpool player to score in the Premier League (behind Michael Owen) began what Brendan Rodgers hopes will be the reconstruction of Anfield back into a fortress. The winger underlined why he’s been so rapidly promoted to starting duties at just 17 years of age.
Rodgers must hope this represents the end of what was becoming an Anfield curse. You would think with owners who run a baseball franchise that Liverpool would know how to secure a magical home run.
Even Reading’s arrival offered a reminder of home discomfort, McDermott’s last trip here three years ago – an FA Cup third-round victory – was the catalyst for him to go from a caretaker to full-time manager.
Luis Suárez was in full flow on Saturday but failed to convert chances, the Uruguayan coming closest when he forced Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to scurry backwards as a delicate chip dipped just over the bar. He missed numerous sitters, but he made amends by creating the winner.
Andre Wisdom’s powerful header found Suárez in centre-field, the South American nudged the ball onto Sterling, and the England winger showed composure to fire right-footed beyond McCarthy.
The applause was of relief as much as acclaim, and a greater ovation followed, not for a goal, but for the award of a free-kick for the battered and bruised Suárez.
Referee Roger East continued the tradition of viewing Suárez’s constant appeals for protection unsympathetically – often with justification – but he also ignored blatant free-kicks.
Indeed, Suárez needed treatment at half-time for a dead leg following what seemed an obvious trip, leaving his team-mates enraged that no free-kick was given.
He showed no ill effects in the second half, creating and missing chances with a regularity that thrill in their construction but often infuriate in their execution.
Liverpool’s lack of ruthlessness was almost costly when Brad Jones — deputising for Pepe Reina who has a tight hamstring – was finally called into action. Garath McCleary had only the Aussie to beat but shot unconvincingly at the keeper’s legs, but the chances were frequent at The Kop end.
“I honestly thought we were going to get a point in the second half,” said McDermott. “We had some chances, so we will move on with positives. We just need to start at 3pm rather than so slowly.”
Suárez, Jonjo Shelvey and Daniel Agger all wasted chances to ease Liverpool’s nerves, the anxiety towards full-time tangible in a stadium which was finally reacquainted with that winning feeling in the league.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Rodgers.
“We should have had three points long before today. “We need to improve our finishing, which is an ongoing theme, but the win is the most important thing.”