Football - Premier League

Mignolet saves late penalty as Liverpool beat Stoke

Liverpool1 - 0Stoke City

Premier League, Anfield – Liverpool 1 (Sturridge 37) Stoke City 0.

 
Mignolet saves late penalty as Liverpool beat Stoke - Football - Premier LeagueAFP
 

Simon Mignolet saved a late penalty on his Liverpool debut as Daniel Sturridge’s goal saw off Stoke City 1-0 in the opening Premier League match of the season.

Liverpool controlled the game but Daniel Agger’s inexplicable handball with two minutes left gave Jonathan Walters the chance to earn his side a point.

But Mignolet – who otherwise had a shaky debut as his Stoke counterpart Asmir Begovic shone – tipped away the Irishman’s spot-kick before saving Kenwyne Jones’ rebound.

England striker Sturridge surpassed Luis Suarez’s 2013 total of 11 league goals with a clinical low strike through the legs of Robert Huth and past Begovic to give Brendan Rodgers’ side the lead.

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.

Mignolet saves late penalty as Liverpool beat Stoke - Football - Premier League

 

KEY MOMENTS

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

Mignolet saves late penalty as Liverpool beat Stoke - Football - Premier League

 

KEY 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.

PLAYER RATINGS

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

Stoke City: Begovic 9, Cameron 6, Shawcross 6, Huth 6, Pieters 7, Whelan 6, Nzonzi 6, Wilson 6, Walters 5, Crouch 5, Etherington 6; Subs: Adam 6, Pennant 6, Jones 6

THE MATCH IN A TWEET

Mignolet saves late penalty as Liverpool beat Stoke - Football - Premier League

 

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