Liverpool had to settle for just the one point after a hard-fought clash against Stoke at Anfield ended in a goalless draw.
|Luis Suarez and Martin Skrtel went closest for the Reds but ultimately they failed to turn their domination of the game into a victory.
Suarez hit the post with 10 minutes to go after previously slicing wide from inside the area while Skrtel shot inches wide of Asmir Begovic’s far post in the dying minutes and Stoke held firm for a point.An early scare after early on in the game threatened to gift Stoke their first Anfield goal since 1983. Nuri Sahin under-hit his pass to Martin Skrtel after Pepe Reina caught him unawares with a short goal-kick. Former Reds midfielder Charlie Adam seized possession but after some frantic defending the ball was hooked to safety.
At the Anfield Road End, Suarez danced his way along the touchline in the manner we have all become accustomed to before poking the ball back for Sahin but the Turkish international’s side-footed effort crashed into a Stoke defender.
Whelan whipped an inviting free-kick across the blindside of a retreating Reds defence but Skrtel was strong and alert to scramble the ball clear as Peter Crouch stood poised to turn it home at the far post.
Stoke were the physical presence that everyone expected them to be; for better and for worse. The wall of claret and blue they formed ahead of the ball was mostly impenetrable and the Reds were unable to settle into a rhythm on the ball.
When the home side did look to retain possession, however, tough challenges came raining down upon them. First Robert Huth clattered Suarez off the ball and then Michael Kightly received a yellow card for a late, lunging tackle.
After the interval the Reds came out full of drive and determingation. Gerrard, Suarez and the excellent Suso connected with deft passes and flicks as Sahin dropped deep sporadically and Allen lurked patiently to pick up the pieces.
On 51 minutes Gerrard opened up the Stoke defence. Head raised, the skipper clipped a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Glen Johnson, but the full-back blazed the ball over the bar.
Suarez let the ball roll across his body before embarking on a mazy run through the heart of the Stoke defence. But with a trail of floored defenders in his wake and the whole of Anfield on its feet, poised to explode in celebration, the Uruguayan sliced the ball wide.
Agger, who had carried the ball with real purpose from the back throughout the game, sprinted to the edge of the Stoke penalty area from where he crossed into the centre for Sahin to attack. The ball evaded him but broke for Sterling, who smashed it against Begovic’s near post.
Joe Cole, on as a second-half substitute whipped the ball into the box for Skrtel but he could only fire hide and the Reds were forced to settle for a draw.