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Stoke City vs Liverpool
 1 - 0 
Sat Sep 10 15:00:00 BST 2011
Britannia Stadium
Mark Clattenburg

JON WALTERS secured battling Stoke City a second successive Britannia Stadium triumph over Liverpool to extend their excellent start to the new season.

The Republic of Ireland international, a self-confessed Everton fan, fired home a 20th minute penalty after he had been fouled in the box by Jamie Carragher.

But it took a remarkable defensive display in which Ryan Shawcross and Matthew Upson were outstanding for the Potters to hold onto their slender lead.

In one incredible moment in the second half, it took five blocks - three of them by Asmir Begovic - to prevent Liverpool from grabbing what seemed an inevitable equaliser and there were many other anxious moments as the visitors tried hard to hit back.


City had few opportunities themselves but they were indebted to the cool head of Walters, who despite missing a penalty at Norwich, took the responsibility from the spot and slammed his shot past Pepe Reina to give Tony Pulis' side the lead.

The victory, City's sixth in eight matches unbeaten, means they have now taken eight points from their first six games in the Barclays Premier League.

Peter Crouch holds off the attention of Lucas. ACTION IMAGES

Pulis handed a debut to record signing Crouch, but while his other deadline day acquisitions Jerome and Palacios were on the bench, there was mixed news on the injury front.

Woodgate failed a fitness test on a knock, but Wilson and Delap came through theirs to take their place in the starting line-up after recovering from hamstring problems.

A foul on Crouch in the first minute gave City a free kick in a threatening position, but when Pennant delivered the set piece into the box, the big striker's attempt to head back across goal at the far post was blocked by the close attention of Skrtel.

A long ball from Adam then caused problems for the Potters defence in the swirling wind and when it broke to Suarez he fired his shot over the bar.

There was another scare for Pulis' side when Liverpool were awarded a corner on the right hand side and Adam's kick flashed across the face of goal.

Robert Huth wins the ball from Dirk Kuyt. ACTION IMAGES

City were then awarded another free kick in a good position for Etherington to cause problems with his delivery, but Shawcross stooping to get in a header appeared to be held by Skrtel but any claims for a penalty were waved away by the referee.

Suarez then looked threatening again as he linked up well with Kuyt, but Shawcross was alert to the situation with a firm block to keep out the attempt at goal.

Liverpool mounted a period of sustained pressure and it took some good work from Upson closing down Suarez to ensure that it eventually came to nothing.

After the crowd had grown frustrated at some of the referee's decisions, they had no complaints in the 20th minute when he awarded them a penalty.

Carragher was adjudged to have fouled Walters as he latched onto a Crouch flick to burst into the box and it was the Republic of Ireland striker who immediately grabbed the ball to take the spot kick despite missing his last one at Norwich City.

Walters showed a cool nerve by slamming his penalty past Reina who was given absolutely no chance as he dived away to his right.

Jon Walters fires home a penalty against Liverpool. ACTION IMAGES

In many respects, the goal had come against the run of play and the Potters were soon defending bravely again at the other end as Begovic palmed out a cross from Henderson, but Shawcross flung himself at Suarez's shot at goal at the far post.

There were more problems for the City defence when Suarez produced an electrifying burst down the left and sent over a low cross which broke for Skrtel charging in on the edge of the box but his shot was high and wide as Etherington challenged.

The Uruguayan international then made room for himself with a sharp turn past Upson in the box but his low shot was grasped by Begovic.

The half ended with City hitting back themselves and from a corner delivered by Etherington on the right Shawcross' twisting header was off target.

When the game got underway after the break, Delap did well on a burst down the right hand side and his low cross almost broke to Etherington on the edge of the box and Liverpool cleared the danger thanks to some good work by Agger.

Rory Delap rides a challenge from Luis Suarez. ACTION IMAGES

Another strong run by Walters, holding off the presence of two Liverpool defenders, then enabled City to ease a period of pressure from the visitors, but the corner which he managed to earn at the end of that advance forward came to nothing.

City then produced some incredible defending to hold onto their lead when Henderson broke clear and an equaliser seemed the inevitable outcome.

Henderson's first two efforts were blocked Begovic on the edge of his area, then Upson and Shawcross produced vital interception before the City' keeper made the final save with his legs from Adam to end a remarkable sequence of events.

It was hardly surprising after that bad miss that Dalglish made a double substitution moments later throwing on Carroll and Bellamy in place of Henderson and Kuyt.

Pulis also made three changes himself midway through the half to inject fresh legs with Wilkinson, Jones and Palacios all coming on to replace Huth, Etherington and Delap.

Dean Whitehead and Andy Carroll battle for the ball. ACTION IMAGES

City continued to defend courageously at times against wave after wave of Liverpool attacks, Whitehead getting in a crucial block to deny Suarez as he shaped to shoot.

After a delay while Bellamy and Wilkinson received treatment for a clash of heads, the free kick was dragged back to Agger who fired his shot high over the bar.

Shawcross' magnificent display continued with him producing a vital headed clearance when Downing whipped over a cross in the direction of Suarez.

Liverpool had two strong appeals for a penalty rejected as they pressed for an equaliser and Suarez's cross did appear to hit Upson on the arm as he tried to clear.

The equaliser should have come deep into injury time when a mix up between Crouch and Begovic left Suarez with an open goal but he rolled his shot wide.


Jon Walters celebrates scoring a penalty against Liverpool. ACTION IMAGES
Jon Walters secured brave Stoke City a second successive Britannia Stadium win over Liverpool.
 Match Information
  Stoke Liverpool
Goals : 1 0
Possession : 41% 59%
Shots On Target : 1 11
Shots Off Target : 2 9
Corners : 2 12
Fouls : 12 13
Most Fouls : Whitehead (3) Skrtel (3)
Yellow Cards : 0 1
Red Cards : 0 0
Scorers :
Walters 21 (pen)
Full Match Stats
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