Jon Walters scores twice as Stoke defeat Liverpool 3-1 in the Premier League
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp. Last Updated: 26/12/12 11:34pm
Jon Walters scored twice as Stoke City responded in style to giving away a penalty in the opening minute against Liverpool with a 3-1 victory at the Britannia Stadium.
The well-deserved success for Tony Pulis' men lifted them above their opponents to eighth in the Premier League table, with Brendan Rodgers' inconsistent visitors now down in 10th.
Best of the Match
- Man of the match: Jon Walters. Both Stoke's front two troubled Liverpool's defence but Walters edges this award thanks to his excellent second-half finish.
- Goal of the match: Walters' second-half strike. He chested the ball to control and then let fly with a right-foot volley in the same movement. A real cracker.
- Attempt of the match: If not the aforementioned Walters effort, then Luis Suarez's second-half shot which could have pulled Liverpool level at 2-2. In a great position, he kicked the ball against his own foot before it struck the post.
- Save of the match: Pepe Reina's tip-over from Matthew Etherington's rising shot in the first half. It kept the score at 2-1 and Liverpool in the game at that stage.
- Talking point: Liverpool's lack of penetration will spark more talk of new players being needed at Anfield. Daniel Sturridge looks set to arrive but another creator also appears to be needed.
There was an explosive opening to the final top-flight encounter of a busy Boxing Day with Ryan Shawcross rightly penalised for pulling Luis Suarez shirt by referee Howard Webb with barely 30 seconds on the clock.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard took responsibility and made no mistake from 12 yards, firing low and hard into the bottom corner as the visitors picked up from where they left off having romped to a 4-0 weekend win over Fulham.
But Stoke were back on terms soon after as Martin Skrtel's costly slip in defence after a long ball forward allowed Walters to burst into the box and beat Reina with some style.
And the hosts were in front in the 12th minute as the Reds switched off badly at a corner, allowing Kenwyne Jones to advance to the far post before glancing a header home, with no marker or man on the upright in sight for Liverpool.
Reina then had to be at his best to tip over a searing drive from Matt Etherington, while Gerrard side-footed narrowly wide at the other end of the field after good work from Stewart Downing and Suso down the flank.
Suarez drilled in a low shot from a tight angle which Asmir Begovic did well to block at his near post and as the interval approached Reina was quickly off his line to smother Etherington's shot following a deep cross to the back post.
The Uruguay international then clipped the outside of Begovic's post with a scuffed shot at the start of the second period as Liverpool looked to get back on terms, only to find themselves further in arrears in the 49th minute.
Walters showed superb technique to chest down Jones' flick on after a long throw into the penalty area before firing a first-time volley beyond the despairing dive of Reina.
The Reds goalkeeper needed treatment after a nasty collision with Dean Whitehead in the 70th minute as they contested a low ball into the box, but was thankfully able to continue.
Rodgers' side pressed in a vain attempt to get back into the game in the closing stages, but often looked more likely to concede on the break than find a way past Begovic once again, with the Potters No.1 turning away a long-range effort from Gerrard in the last minute.
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