Liverpool suffered yet another late goal to drop two points at Stoke, having led through Sotirios Kyrgiakos’ goal until Robert Huth equalised in the 88th minute.
Both goals arrived from set-pieces and were scrappy tap-ins from close range – a fair summary of the match itself. Scrappy and unattractive.
With Liverpool’s main attacking options all ruled out through injury, Rafa Benitez’s team was never going to be inspirational and with six defenders in his line-up Stoke would hardly have been intimidated by their more illustrious opponents.
There were impressive performances from goalscorer Kyrgiakos – who added much needed physical presence against a Stoke side who wouldn’t look out of place in a rugby tournament.
Pepe Reina was a commanding presence in goal, Lucas Leiva and Javier Mascherano worked hard in midfield. David Ngog struggled up front, as did Philipp Degen on the right of midfield. While Emiliano Insua continues to look out of his depth at left back.
The Reds took the lead when Fabio Aurelio’s superb low free-kick was parried by Thomas Sorensen and Kyrgiakos bundled the ball in.
Maxi Rodriguez made his debut from the bench, replacing Degen for the last 15 minutes.
Stoke’s pressure built and built with corner after corner and long throw after long throw. Eventually the pressure told with Huth poking in from close range after a knockdown.
In the 95th minute Dirk Kuyt was denied a match winning goal as he headed a glorious Aurelio cross onto the post.