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Gerrard's Anfield return overshadowed by Suarez

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24 Sep 2011 18:05:36

Gerrard's Anfield return overshadowed by Suarez

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard's first appearance at Anfield since March was overshadowed by Luis Suarez's virtuoso performance in his side's much-needed 2-1 victory over Wolves on Saturday.

Gerrard, who returned after groin surgery during Wednesday's League Cup win at Brighton, made just his second appearance of the season -- and his first in front of the Kop -- after coming on for the final nine minutes.

But it was Uruguay forward Suarez who took the plaudits for a man-of-the-match performance, capped with the decisive second goal after Roger Johnson's own goal gave Liverpool an early lead.

Steven Fletcher got one back in the 49th minute, but Liverpool held out to record a vital win -- ending a run of two successive league defeats and condemning Wolves to a third consecutive loss.

With games looming against Everton and Manchester United, Liverpool knew they required a performance and result to match after successive league defeats.

Yet their start suggested anything but as it was Wolves, who opted to pack their midfield, who settled the quickest.

Liverpool's Jamie Carragher was short with his backpass and a swift moved ended with Jamie O'Hara failing to connect, with his low shot providing a routine save for Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

The escape may have just been the wake-up call Liverpool needed as Johnson's own goal handed them a fortunate 11th minute lead.

Charlie Adam took the plaudits, but there was no doubting it was the Wolves captain who had the decisive touch as he diverted the Scottish midfielder's shot past his own goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Despite Johnson's protests that he was fouled by Andy Carroll in the build-up, there was little doubting that Adam's shot was heading wide before the defender's critical intervention.

Suarez on the floor, and Andy Carroll in the air, were combining to good effect as they carved out chances for one another.

Wolves' high defensive line was always going to be a risky policy and it backfired, this time to critical effect, as Liverpool extended their lead in the 38th minute via Suarez.

Jose Enrique's pass saw Suarez escape the offside trap and the Uruguayan turned Christophe Berra inside and out before superbly driving home for his third Premier League goal of the season.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy made a double substitution at half time as he looked to find a way back into the game and his gamble looked to have paid off as Fletcher made an instant impact by finding the net in the 49th minute.

Liverpool appeared half asleep as Hunt found room to cut the ball back for the Scottish striker to score from eight yards out.

It was Wolves' first league goal in over 400 minutes. However, Hennessey almost wasted his side's lifeline within a minute as he dropped Stewart Downing's cross before recovering to smother Suarez's follow-up.

Wolves were riding their luck as Stewart Downing's delivery again caused all sorts of problems and Carroll's header bounced back off the post 60 seconds later.

But while a combination of Hennessey and ill fortune had denied Liverpool, Downing should have given the Reds the lead they required in 54th minute.

A swift counter-attack saw Adam free Downing and the winger bore down on goal before Wales goalkeeper Hennessey smothered his shot with team-mates screaming for the pass inside

Panic was beginning to set into Liverpool's ranks as they had to defend for their lives, no more so when Fletcher outjumped Reina but saw his header fall inches wide as Liverpool, boosted by Gerrard's late introduction, held on.


AFP

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