Liverpool suffer European hangover as resilient Stoke cling on for a detail

Liverpool came down to world with a bulge from their 5-2 Champions League win over Roma when Stoke City ground out a 0-0 Premier League draw at Anfield

Jurgen Klopp did his best to keep his actors focused on the matter in hand, describing this game as the most important point one of the season and petitioning to the crowd for passionate corroborate, though a rocky and resolute Stoke were the last adversaries Liverpool needed to meet between the two legs of their Champions League semi-final.

There was no goal for Mohamed Salah, who will now have just been two more chances to set a Premier League scoring preserve, and no confidence elevate from temporarily clambering above Manchester United to second in the table. Defeat at Chelsea next Sunday could likely leave a top-four finish execute on the final day’s home recreation with Brighton.

Liverpool missed more than a detail from this fixture but so too did Stoke, who need prevails to get out of difficulty. Paul Lambert’s side put in a solid recital to annoy Liverpool but it is possibly too little and too late. Stoke have not prevailed a conference match at Anfield since 1959 and, although this show saves Lambert’s record of never losing here in six stays as a administrator, he may have to wait a while for his next possibility unless other develops become his way.

” We were outstanding. I couldn’t ask the players for anything more ,” the Stoke manager said.” Liverpool have been tallying for recreation and we stopped them. They didn’t make that many likelihoods .”

Klopp did not make a huge fuss about the Erik Pieters handball that could have earned Liverpool a late penalty or about the occasionally over-physical course in which the full-back deposited close to Salah.

” Football is a physical activity and Mo is probably the most criticized player in the Premier League but all the boys are used to that ,” the Liverpool manager said, before substantiating Sadio Mane would be back for Roma on Wednesday and that Salah and Jordan Henderson should overcome minor knockings.” We didn’t score, so it’s not the best daytime of my life but for sure I’ve had worse periods .”

The tourists must have had an inkling their fluke was in when Salah passed up a splendid chance after five minutes and with it the possibility of settling home nerves and pressuring the opposition to pursue video games. Early plans to limit the cavity available for the Egyptian to run into vaporized as Salah break-dance from halfway into an empty half but, having carried the ball into the area and put himself in a one-on-one situation with Jack Butland, he chipped the goalkeeper and uncharacteristically missed the target.

Thus reprieved, Stoke went on to create a few the possibilities of their own in a first half which verified Liverpool do most of the attacking without quite attaining the final pass weigh. Mame Biram Diouf foreman into the side-netting after a Joe Gomez slip leaved Moritz Bauer the opportunity to cross and, when Xherdan Shaqiri rolled the ball across an unguarded Liverpool goalline a few minutes later, neither Peter Crouch nor Badou Ndiaye could pull far enough to gain the necessary touch.

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Georginio Wijnaldum came closest to ending the first-half gridlock when hitting narrowly wide-ranging from a Roberto Firmino lay-off, though Salah might have made something from an unforced Butland error had he not been unceremoniously barged over on the edge of the area by Pieters. He took the free-kick himself but was unable to fus Butland again and, when Danny Ings placed the ball in the net from a narrow slant on the stroke of half-time, he was correctly flagged offside.

After watching 20 stodgy second-half times of Liverpool struggling to break down Stoke, Klopp transported on James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne to try to inject a little more urgency.

Clyne was presented with a respectable opening almost immediately, merely to manager tamely into Butland’s forearms, before Milner set up Alberto Moreno for a shot that flew wide but still amounted to Liverpool’s good assault since turning round. The afternoon did not get any better for those in ruby-red, though at least they were spared the ignominy of next following the midweek Roma 5-2 splendid with a home demolish when Ryan Shawcross was unable to turn the ball in at the far pole after an excellent job from Diouf.

Erik Pieters draws his arm away after being been hit by Georginio Wijnaldum’s cross. Photograph: Paul Ellis/ AFP/ Getty Images

A minute before that Pieters had been extremely luck not to acknowledge criminal penalties when Wijnaldum’s cross impressed an arm. He might have been trying to attract it away but there was definite contact. Liverpool protested in vain, though to an extent they would have been flattered had video games been triumphed by such means. This was not the unstoppable assaulting machine that blew away Roma and Manchester City. This was Liverpool on economy setting.

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