League Cup - Suarez stars as Liverpool beat Stoke

Wed, 26 Oct 21:43:00 2011

Luis Suarez turned on the style as Liverpool beat Stoke City 2-1 in their Carling Cup fourth round clash at the Britannia Stadium.

2011-12 Carling Cup Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates goal against Stoke - 0

If, as fashion would have it, the true test of a foreign star's worth is how they perform on a wet Wednesday in Stoke then Suarez can lay claim to being among the best as he scored a sensational curling strike and a header to overturn the Potters' lead, given them by Kenwyne Jones.

It looked as though Liverpool were going to be made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal once more when Jones scored just before half-time, but Uruguay star Suarez struck twice after the break to send the Reds into the quarter-finals.

The last time these two sides met in the League Cup on the same ground Robbie Fowler scored a hat-trick as Liverpool romped to an 8-0 win. They would go on to win the trophy that season, as well as the FA Cup and UEFA Cup.

One mark of the progress Stoke have made in the intervening years that they have gone from the third tier of English football to competing in the new equivalent of the UEFA Cup this season. Another is that they beat Liverpool 1-0 on the same ground back in September, courtesy of Jon Walters's first-half penalty, and Kenny Dalglish took steps to avoiding a similar fate by starting with both Suarez and Andy Carroll in his attack.

That league meeting last month was characterised by Liverpool's profligacy in front of goal, and once again the Reds could not convert their dominance into goals. Lucas Leiva, back from suspension, burst into the box after some excellent build-up play and cross for Suarez, who was denied by a quality save by Thomas Sorensen.

The big Danish keeper also denied Carroll, who should have made him work harder from 12 yards out.

Martin Kelly had a decent effort from range parried by Sorensen, but Stoke were gradually working their way back into the game, and they got the break they were looking for on 44 minutes.

Walters capitalised on the dithering of young centre-back Sebastian Coates and pounced to cross from the right and Jones - a one-time Liverpool target while playing at Sunderland - headed home with aplomb for his third goal of the season.

Suarez had been his usual lively self from the outset, and his constant scheming and invention were rewarded 10 minutes into the second half with a fabulous goal. After bringing down a crossfield ball from Lucas, Suarez teased defender Ryan Shotton before knocking the ball cheekily through his legs, nipping around him on the corner of the penalty area and bending a fiercely whipped effort into the far corner.

It was a moment of genius which restored belief in Liverpool, a side clearly out to win this competition, after their earlier wastefulness.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis, also targeting this trophy after reaching the FA Cup final last term, responded by bringing on Jermaine Pennant and Cameron Jerome, but a flat final quarter of the game was only enlivened with the introduction of Craig Bellamy from the Liverpool bench.

The Welshman came on with eight minutes left and soon rattled the woodwork after a neat one-two with Carroll, and just moments later the Reds were two up when Jordan Henderson's cross was headed past Sorensen by Suarez.

Pulis threw on Peter Crouch - like Pennant a former Liverpool player - but the striker missed from close range in stoppage time, denying the Potters the chance to force extra time.

Suarez was replaced by Dirk Kuyt late on, and left the field to a deserved ovation from the travelling fans.

Tony Mabert - on Twitter @tony_mabert / Eurosport

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