Stoke – whose style was less direct than under previous boss Tony Pulis – were dangerous on the break and from set pieces, with Robert Huth hitting the bar and Ryan Shawcross seeing an effort cleared off the line.
But Liverpool hit the woodwork several times in addition to Begovic’s heroics, making them good value for the win.
PRE-MATCH: Suarez in the stands, Palacios nightmare continues – the Uruguay striker was welcomed by home fans as he watched on following his apology for trying to force a transfer. Stoke, however, lost Wilson Palacios, who has barely played in the past two seasons but was handed a start. Illness forced him off during the warm-up and he was taken to hospital for tests.
9' + 13' - CROSSBAR: Both teams hit woodwork - Stoke’s Huth rattles the goal frame with a volley after a Mignolet flap, while at the other end Kolo Toure hits the Stoke bar from a corner.
37’ – GOAL: Liverpool 1-0 Stoke - After making a string of top-class saves, Begovic can do nothing as Sturridge drills a low shot through Huth’s legs and into the corner just out of the goalkeeper's reach.
64’ – SAVE/POST: Begovic keeps Stoke in it - The Stoke keeper tips a Jordan Henderson rocket onto the upright - his second brilliant stop from Henderson. He later saves smartly from Gerrard and Johnson.
88’ – PENALTY: Agger handballs, Mignolet saves Liverpool - Agger commits a ridiculous handball from a Stoke free-kick as the ball strikes his outstretched arm. But Mignolet dives low to his right to parry Walters’ effort, and saves Jones’ rebound from point-blank range to spark delirious scenes at Anfield.
TALKING POINT: Did Liverpool sign the wrong keeper? They were linked with Begovic since last season, but opted for Mignolet. Begovic was amazing, keeping Stoke in the match quite literally single-handedly; Despite saving a penalty on his debut, Mignolet struggled with the aerial side of the game and was nervous kicking the ball.
MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS
Sturridge’s goal made it seven in the last six Premier League matches, and 11 for the calendar year. Surely he must be in the frame for more England caps.
Liverpool debutants were Mignolet, Toure and Aspas; Stoke saw Erik Pieters make his debut.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Asmir Begovic (Stoke): Made countless brilliant saves to limit Liverpool to 1-0, and his side should have earned a point but for his opposite number’s penalty stop.
Liverpool: Mignolet 7, Johnson 6, Toure 7, Agger 5, Jose Enrique 7, Gerrard 6, Lucas 6, Henderson 6, Aspas 7, Sturridge 7, Coutinho 7; Subs: Sterling 6
THE MATCH IN A TWEET