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Sterling strike gives Liverpool hope of home run

Sunday, 21 October 2012 - 4:32pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Stop the clocks, turn off the phone, organise the street party and prepare the open top bus parade on Merseyside. Liverpool have finally won at home.

Liverpool 1 Reading 0

Stop the clocks, turn off the phone, organise the street party and prepare the open top bus parade on Merseyside. Liverpool have finally won at home.

Victory over Reading secured their first Premier League win at Anfield this season, and only their third league victory this year. Brendan Rodgers has broken his league duck on home soil.

Teenager Raheem Sterling, who became the second youngest Liverpool player to score in the Premier League (behind Michael Owen) began what Rodgers hopes will be the reconstruction of Anfield back into a fortress. Sterling underlined why he's been so rapidly promoted to starting duties at just 17 years of age.

His 29th-minute winner enabled the Kop to enjoy a home fixture again, although there were plenty of familiar flaws as chances were frequently wasted. Brian McDermott's side threatened to score what would, in fairness, have been an undeserved equaliser during an edgy finale.

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 Suarez was in full flow yesterday (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 Suarez 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 Suarez.

Referee Roger East continued the tradition of viewing Suarez's constant appeals for protection unsympathetically - often with justification - but he also ignored blatant free-kicks.

Indeed, Suarez 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."

Suarez, 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."

Liverpool (4-3-3): Jones; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Wisdom; Allen, Gerard, Sahin (Shelvey 63); Sterling (Henderson 85), Suso (Enrique 75), Suarez. Booked: Agger. Subs: Gulacsi, Carragher, Downing, Shelvey, Assaidi. Reading (4-5-1): McCarthy; Cummings, Shorey, Mariappa, Gorkks; McAnuff, Leigertwood, Karacan (McCleary 25), Guthrie (Roberts 81), Kebe; Pogrebnyak (Le Fondre 75). Booked: Gorkks, Mariappa. Subs: Taylor, Gunter, Pearce, Robson-Kanu. Referee: R East (Wilts).

 


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