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Sturridge hands Reds winning start

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17 Aug 2013 17:02:00

Sturridge hands Reds winning start

Striker Daniel Sturridge got Liverpool's season off to a winning start but it was new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet who was the hero with a late penalty save in the 1-0 victory over Stoke.

The hosts had dominated throughout but had only the one goal to show for their efforts when Daniel Agger handled former Reds midfielder Charlie Adam's free-kick three minutes from time.

Jonathan Walters fired low to Mignolet's right but the Belgium international reached that and substitute Kenwyne Jones' follow-up to get his Liverpool career off to the best possible start following a £9million move from Sunderland.

Sturridge had only trained for two weeks having been sidelined by an ankle injury sustained at the end of last season on England duty, but if he felt rusty he did not show it. He had already had the ball in the net once, heading in Steven Gerrard's free-kick only to be denied by an offside flag, before he eventually broke the deadlock in the 37th minute.

With most of the focus over the summer being on the future of Liverpool's other striker Luis Suarez, Sturridge completed his rehabilitation in virtual anonymity.

He is not one for creating headlines but knows where to make an impact when it matters and he ultimately settled the contest, although the game should have been put well beyond Stoke with the number of chances created.

Liverpool need someone other than Suarez, last season's 30-goal striker, to rely on if they are to seriously mount a challenge for the top four and Sturridge looks like he is ready to shoulder that responsibility.

First of all, however, he needs to do it over the first six games - the duration of the remainder of Suarez's ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in April.

Having been restored to training with his first-team colleagues on Friday, Rodgers said the 26-year-old was "back, smiling and happy" and there was definitely evidence of a broad grin as he walked around the perimeter of the pitch pre-match to a ripple of applause.

While Liverpool dominated a Stoke side trying to play more football under new manager Mark Hughes they lacked a cutting edge for long periods.


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