Latics halt Reds charge
Liverpool's ambitions of staging a late charge for Champions League qualification suffered an untimely blow as bogey side Wigan ended their four-match winning run in a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
A fifth successive victory would have put the Reds within four points of fourth-placed Chelsea but despite dominating two-thirds of the game they failed to press home their advantage.
Raul Meireles impressed once again, extending his remarkable goalscoring spree to five in his last six matches, but at the other end Jose Reina's goal was breached for the first time in 463 minutes when Steve Gohouri prodded home from close range.
However, another positive note for Reds boss Kenny Dalglish was January signing Luis Suarez, on his first start since joining from Ajax.
He showed why the Merseysiders parted with #22.8million with a display full of energy, invention and determination.
Had the Uruguay international enjoyed more fortune his side would have won the game, having had a shot to make it 2-0 rebound off a post before the interval and a second-half free-kick cannon back off the crossbar.
Wigan, to give them credit, enjoyed a good spell after the interval which culminated in their goal and ensured Liverpool's record against them now stands at just two victories in their last seven meetings.
Suarez was into the action early, having a fourth-minute shout for a penalty turned down after a quick counter-attack from a corner and combining well down the right with Dirk Kuyt, who himself had a shot from the edge of the penalty area which had Ali Al Habsi grasping to hang on at the second attempt.
But the Wigan goalkeeper could do nothing about Liverpool's opener in the 24th minute as Meireles continued his scoring run.
Fabio Aurelio's cross from the left byline was partially deflected by the head of Gohouri but only as far as the Portugal international 16 yards out and he smashed home a right-foot volley .
Three minutes later Suarez almost doubled the lead with a manoeuvre reminiscent of the now-departed Fernando Torres.
He wriggled his way into the left edge of the penalty area before opening his body to shoot right-footed past Al Habsi only to see the ball rebound off the far post.
The Uruguayan was a willing outlet for Liverpool and Gohouri was booked on the half-hour for clattering into the back of him.
Wigan were in danger of being overwhelmed as Meireles continued to find space in and around their penalty area, blazing over from range on one occasion.
The closest the Latics came to producing a response was when winger Charles N'Zogbia fired in a low free-kick which Reina claimed easily late in the first half.
Meireles was replaced by David Ngog four minutes into the second half, with the Portugal midfielder heading straight down the tunnel to receive treatment.
But Suarez showed no signs of fading in only his second match since December 8 and Antolin Alcaraz had to resort to a foul to prevent him racing into the penalty area, for which he was booked.
But Liverpool's inability to seize complete control of the game and score a second gave the visitors hope and the threat of an equaliser turned into a reality in the 65th minute.
N'Zogbia curled an inswinging left-footed cross from the right which found its way to Gohouri who stabbed home from two yards out at the far post.
There was a suspicion of offside but it was only relevant if Alcaraz had got the slightest of touches on the way through and it was impossible to tell.
That was the first goal Reina had conceded in five matches and it threatened to undermine all Liverpool's previous hard work in putting together a run of four successive victories.
Suarez continued to impress and when Caldwell fouled him on the edge of the area in the 77th minute he picked himself up to curl a shot over the wall but onto the crossbar.
The Uruguayan, seemingly almost single-handedly at times, tried desperately to find the winner but found Latics captain Caldwell in particularly resolute form.
Aurelio fired a shot just over, which was followed by Martin Skrtel's header in added time as the hosts failed to find a way through.
The result put a check, for now, on lofty ambitions to break back into the top four but despite dropping points Dalglish will still harbour hopes they can still pose a challenge later in the season.
Unfortunately for Wigan, they remain in the bottom three.