Liverpool 1-0 QPR
Premier League, Saturday 10th December 2011
You cannot keep Luis Suarez out of the headlines. Following another week were the Uruguayan’s character was again called into question. Both as the result of an FA charge following the defeat against Fulham, as well as the continuation of a mainstream media campaign seemingly determined to tarnish his reputation. Suarez scored the only goal of the game to see off QPR and clinch a long-overdue home victory.
For Liverpool it was important to make amends following the disappointment of defeat at Craven Cottage and their recent frustrating sequence of stalemates at Anfield.
And Liverpool fully merited a victory which their perseverance eventually earned. Even if, for much of the first half, the home side’s fortunes seemed destined to follow an all too familiar script.
The Reds placed a QPR side – who were largely defunct as an attacking force until the closing moments – under concerted pressure from the first whistle. As Liverpool dominated possession, won a succession of corners and created a number of chances but failed to find the breakthrough during the opening half.
The ever-improving Charlie Adam orchestrated proceedings from the centre of the pitch, as the QPR midfield afforded the sort of time and space on which he thrives. Whilst the invention and movement of Suarez was a persistent menace for the likes of Anton Ferdinand and Danny Gabbidon.
The anxiety amongst the home crowd was increasingly evident as half-time approached with no sign of a reward for the Reds dominance. But their doubts were calmed just seconds after the re-start as Suarez found the back of the net.
Adam’s set-piece delivery has the potential to be a serious weapon, yet Liverpool rarely make the most of the Scot’s pinpoint crossing from wide areas. On this occasion, though, they did.
Adam’s initial corner-kick was cleared by the QPR defence but the ball found its way back to the midfielder. Adam’s second attempt sailed over the heads of the QPR defenders at the near post and found Suarez unmarked, six-yards from goal. Liverpool’s leading goal-scorer made no mistake in expertly placing is header beyond Cerny.
The influence of Suarez even gained praise from opposition manager Neil Warnock. Warnock, having already offered Suarez some support prior to kick-off, admitted afterwards that he felt the forward had been the best player on the pitch and felt it apt that he scored the decisive goal.
Yet, a profligacy in front a goal which has so characterised Liverpool’s home form this campaign at one stage looked as though it may cost them again. A succession of squandered opportunities either side of Suarez’s winning goal deprived the Reds of a larger winning margin and ensured them of a nervy final 15 minutes.
Kenny Dalglish must now have come to accept as given that any visiting goalkeeper to Anfield is mysteriously inspired with almost super-human
strengths. This time it was QPR back-up ‘keeper, Radek Cerny, who thwarted Liverpool time and again. Although, in fairness, the Reds finishing left much to be desired at times.
Suarez and, the recalled, Maxi Rodriguez were the main culprits. Suarez directed a powerful header straight at Cerny early on when unmarked in a similar position from were he would eventually score his goal, following an excellent Stewart Downing centre.
Cerny later denied Suarez at his near post; whilst also driving the ball underneath the Rangers stopper and across the face of goal, after some clever play on the right by-line. Suarez then completely miss-queued an effort from a tight angle having been played in by Maxi before the break. Maxi probably should have gone for goal himself but he was denied a number of times himself.
Maxi was played in behind the QPR defence by a Dirk Kuyt through ball in the first half; with only the goalkeeper to beat, Maxi aimed for the far corner but Cerny saved again, although the Argentine may have done better. Whilst Cerny also did very well to tip a first-time Maxi effort against his own post, as Liverpool sought to improve their advantage.
Shaun Wright-Phillps struck an attempted clearance against his own crossbar from substitute, Craig Bellamy’s, cross. But it was the visitors who dominated the closing stages as Liverpool clung on to their slender advantage.
QPR failed to genuinely worry Pepe Reina, despite their dominance of territory and a succession of corner-kicks late on. However it was still a relieved Anfield crowd which greeted Lee Mason’s full-time whistle.
And so, the Reds secured their first home league victory since September and, with a sequence of eminently ‘winnable’ upcoming fixtures, the Christmas period could well have a telling influence on Liverpool’s aspirations for the remainder of the season.
Man of the Match: LUIS SUAREZ
Suarez gave a timely reminder of his brilliance with a match winning performance.