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Jon Walters on the double as Stoke beat Liverpool
Published : 26 Dec 2012 22:16:54Rss feed
Boyhood Everton fan Jon Walters proved to be the scourge of Liverpool for the second successive season at the Britannia Stadium as the Reds' woeful run in the Potteries continued with a 3-1 defeat.
Walters scored either side of Kenwyne Jones' header after the visitors had taken the lead through a Steven Gerrard penalty awarded in the first minute.
The Merseyside-born 29-year-old was the match-winner on this ground in September 2011 with the only goal of the game from the spot. And his two strikes took him level with Ricardo Fuller as the club's joint leading Premier League goalscorer with 18.
Tony Pulis' side extended their unbeaten league run at the Britannia to 16 matches, a sequence stretching back to February. But that record looked in danger within the first minute when Luis Suarez was pulled back by Ryan Shawcross in the box and Gerrard coolly stroked home the resultant penalty.
However, Liverpool's celebrations were short lived as the home side were level four minutes later and ahead with just over 12 minutes gone. A customary long ball forward could only be flicked backwards by Daniel Agger and, with Martin Skrtel losing his footing, Walters capitalised to smash past Jose Reina.
The aerial bombardment continued but there will be questions asked in the Liverpool defence about Stoke's second from a corner as Jones was able to jump virtually unchallenged to head in at the undefended near post.
It would have been worse for the Reds had Reina not thrown up a hand to tip over Matthew Etherington's shot. The closest Liverpool came to equalising before the break was when Gerrard stabbed wide from Stewart Downing's cut-back on the left.
Half-time brought a change for the visitors with Raheem Sterling replacing Suso and the substitute almost had an immediate impact with Suarez bundling his cross wide at the near post. But Liverpool's hopes of getting back on level terms quickly were extinguished with Walters' second of the night.
The defence again failed to deal with a long throw as Jones flicked on for his strike partner to control the ball on his chest and hammer home a dipping volley.
Liverpool failed to really trouble the defence of Asmir Begovic - the best being Gerrard's long-range curling shot which the goalkeeper palmed clear. Stoke's win moved them up to eighth in the table, within five points of fourth-placed Tottenham while a sixth defeat of the season for Rodgers' side leaves them rooted in mid-table.