Premier League - Suarez sees Liverpool past QPR

Sat, 10 Dec 16:59:00 2011

Luis Suarez answered his critics with the winning goal as a profligate Liverpool side beat Queens Park Rangers 1-0 at Anfield to move into the top six of the Premier League.

Liverpool 1 QPR 0

The Uruguayan forward was hit with a second FA charge this week for allegedly making an offensive hand gesture to Fulham fans, adding to his ongoing defence against an accusation of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.

It looked like his bad week may continue as Suarez missed several gilt-edged opportunities, while team-mate Maxi Rodriguez was denied a hat-trick by some excellent goalkeeping by Radek Cerny.

But Suarez’s flicked header early in the second half proved sufficient for a wasteful Reds side to get past a plucky Hoops team, who offered little going forward and were spared a thrashing by some resolute if haphazard defending and the excellence of reserve keeper Cerny.

Kenny Dalglish’s side move into the top six, ahead of a sliding Newcastle, while QPR stay lower-mid table.

The first half was predictably all Liverpool with QPR limited to a couple of half-chances from range that did not come close to testing Pepe Reina.

Just as predictably though the Reds struggled to find the net - Andy Carroll had been left out of the starting XI, so it was Suarez this time lacking in end-product.

The Uruguay forward is as temperamental as he is talented, a lack of focus that applies to both finishing and decision-making - before the match he had the lowest conversion ratio of Premier League forwards who have scored three or more goals, that statistic of under eight per cent as much a result of attempting the spectacular as it is a lack of composure in front of goal.

From eight yards he headed straight at veteran Czech keeper Cerny when found unmarked by a superb Stewart Downing cross, and soon afterwards he drilled a shot across goal and wide from a tight angle when Dirk Kuyt and Maxi were free.

Suarez did exactly the same again late in the half, although that time the chance came about when his initial finish was well-saved by Cerny at the near post, while the former Ajax forward skewed a finish embarrassingly wide after he was set up by Maxi.

Argentine attacking midfielder Maxi - restored to the starting line-up with Jordan Henderson moved inside following injuries to Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, and Jay Spearing's suspension - had a low curling finish well-saved by Cerny, who again showed smart reflexes to keep out Downing’s effort after the England winger was played in by a clever Kuyt backheel.

Somehow it remained goalless at half-time, although that changed almost immediately after the break.

Early in the second half Liverpool won a corner, which the visitors initially defended: the second ball saw Charlie Adam glide in a great cross, with Luke Young dragged woefully out of position to allow Suarez a free header that this time he buried from close range.

Things got worse for QPR though as Anton Ferdinand, who had been by far their most capable defender, went off with a thigh injury after over-stretching while evading an Adam tackle.

Liverpool continued to pepper QPR’s overworked penalty area, with Maxi denied what looked a certain goal by a remarkable save from Cerny, wrongfooted but able to readjust and tip his low finish off the post.

The impressive Cerny made another superb stop from the increasingly exasperated Maxi, spreading himself to block his close-range finish after a succession of one-twos with Suarez played the ex-Atletico Madrid man through.

Such escapes gave QPR a chance to snatch a barely-deserved equaliser, and they almost did so when Danny Gabbidon poked a pinpoint free-kick from Joey Barton wide, while a succession of corners tested the home defence.

Indeed, going a goal down was the best thing that happened to Rangers, who bossed the latter stages although admittedly without forcing any saves of note from Reina.

The counter attack actually suited Liverpool, as Suarez felt Bradley Orr had handled his ball in the box, while substitute Craig Bellamy curled a long-range free-kick into the side netting and QPR winger Shaun Wright-Phillips almost scored a spectacular own-goal as he mis-kicked Bellamy’s cross against his own bar.

As it happened there was not too much for the hosts to worry about as they saw out three minutes of stoppage time to hold on to a victory that snaps a poor home streak of four draws on the trot.

Reda Maher on Twitter @Reda_Maher / Eurosport

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