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21:55 26th October 2011

Potters Stunned By Suarez Double

STOKE CITY'S hopes of reaching the Carling Cup quarter finals were shattered by the magic of Uruguayan international Luis Suarez at the Britannia Stadium.

Suarez produced two stunning finishes to help Kenny Dalglish's side hit back after falling behind to Kenwyne Jones' fifth goal of the season just before half time.

Jones had stooped to head home a Jon Walters cross after a mistake by Sebastien Coates and that raised the Potters' hopes of making it through to the final eight.

But after Thomas Sorensen had pulled off a number of outstanding saves to keep Liverpool at bay in the first period, he could do little to deny Suarez after the break.

Liverpool's £22 million striker curled home an equaliser from the edge of the box eight minutes into the second half and then headed a Jordan Henderson cross home five minutes from time to end City's unbeaten run at home this season.

Although the Potters pressed for an equaliser in what remained of the game, Liverpool held on to avenge their League defeat at the Britannia Stadium last month and take their place in the quarter final draw which will be held on Saturday.

Pulis was able to welcome back Woodgate following his recovery from a slight calf strain, but despite making a number of other changes to his starting line-up, the strength of his side really emphasised the depth of the squad now.

Despite the fact that Liverpool were with Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing, they made the brighter start, roared on by their following of 4,700 fans, while there was a rather subdued atmosphere among the home fans.

An inswinging corner from Henderson on the left caused problems for the City defence but Carroll was off balance as headed back across goal.

Walters then conjured up a chance out of nothing after latching onto Jones' flick, cutting inside to unleash a curling shot that was only a fraction too high with Reina scurrying back to ensure that it did in fact clear the bar.

There was a worrying moment for City as Carroll advanced forward and fired a 25-yard shot goalbound which Sorensen could only push out into the path of Suarez who was unable to react quickly enough to get his follow-up on target.

Although Liverpool looked more comfortable on the ball at times, the Potters still managed to carve out opportunities, one of which came when the visitors only half-cleared a Delap throw-in and when the midfielder returned the ball into the box, it fell to Shotton at the far post who had room to get in a shot, but dragged it well wide.

Sorensen had to be alert to the situation when Suarez latched onto a ball from Henderson and cut in from the left before trying to catch the Danish international off his line with a chip, but the 'keeper was able to save comfortably.

Liverpool were then denied by brilliant reflexes from Sorensen when Suarez rounded off a slick move involving Lucas and Rodriguez with a close range shot which the Uruguayan striker must have thought would give his side the lead.

City's 'keeper was a busy man and he had to make further saves in quick succession when Carroll had a free header from a Henderson corner and then again when the big striker found the ball at his feet 12 yards out after Rodriquez's shot was blocked.

The Potters had the ball in the net on the half hour when Walters flicked home Delap's long throw-in to the edge of the six yard box, but referee Probert had already spotted an infringement as Shawcross tussled with Reina.

Sorensen was called upon to make another crucial save when Kelly raiding forward cut in from the right and sent a low shot skidding off the greasy surface, but the 'keeper moved smartly to his left to clutch quite assuredly.

While it had been Liverpool who had carved out the better opportunities, it was City who went in front just before half time.

Coates made the basic error of letting a ball forward bounce a couple of time and Walters nipped in to burst forward down the right.

The Republic of Ireland international advanced into the box before sending over a low cross which found Jones stooping to glance his header wide of the diving Liverpool 'keeper and in at the far post for his fifth goal of the season.

Liverpool were forced into making a change at half time as Carragher was taken off and replaced by Skrtel at the heart of their defence.

Although City had plenty of possession at the beginning of the second half, it was Liverpool who got themselves back on level terms.

It took a stunning strike from Suarez to finally beat Sorensen as, out of nothing, he nutmegged Shotton and then immediately unleashed a curling shot beyond the reach of the diving 'keeper but just inside the far post.

Pulis reacted to the equaliser by sending out Pennant to warm up and he was eventually sent on as a straight swap for Shotton.

A further change was made when Jerome was introduced in place of Etherington which meant Walters moved out onto the left.

In contrast to the first half which produced plenty of clearcut chances for both sides, they were few and far between after Suarez's goal.

City were still getting plenty of chances to test the Liverpool defence with Delap's long throws but Skrtel's extra height helped them to deal with it.

As the game moved into its closing stages, the Potters mounted pressure on the Liverpool defence and when Pennant got his delivery right with a cross to the far post, Jerome rose to head goalbound but it was blocked Skrtel's close attention.

Liverpool then introduced Bellamy in place of Rodriguez and he immediately conjured up a chance by playing a one-two with Carroll on the edge of the box and then firing in a low shot which glanced off the outside of the post.

Moments later, the Merseysiders went in front when Woodgate could only half clear the ball and Henderson volleyed it back into the box for Suarez to calmly plant his header beyond the reach of the diving Sorensen.

City threw on former Liverpool striker Crouch in a desperate attempt to snatch an equaliser, but although there were a couple of appeals for a penalty when the ball was hurled into the box by Delap, they were waved away.

    Data provided by Press Association


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955