Stoke City draw Liverpool at Anfield to boost survival hopes

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Stoke City were very dogged and determined to at least pick a point against Liverpool at Anfield
Stoke City were very dogged and determined to at least pick a point against Liverpool at Anfield

A dogged and determined Stoke City side earned a surprise, hard-fought draw against Champions League semi-finalists Liverpool at Anfield, but they remain three points adrift of safety.

Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah missed the chance to break the record for most goals in a 38-game Premier League season when he clipped wide after being sent clear on goal after five minutes.

That let-off focused the visitors, who frustrated a Liverpool side lacking the attacking edge that saw them beat Roma 5-2 in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Tuesday.

Liverpool had a penalty appeal for handball against Erik Pieters turned down late on before Ryan Shawcross could have won it for Stoke but poked narrowly wide.

Paul Lambert’s side remain in the relegation zone, three points behind Swansea, who face Chelsea at 17:30 BST.

Free scoring Liverpool could not get one past relegation threatened Stoke City

Liverpool missed the chance to go second but move four points clear of Tottenham in fourth.

READ: Arsene Wenger wants to avoid ‘final confrontations’ at Arsenal

Stoke’s resolute defensive performance was epitomised by Pieters.

The Dutch defender, who was at fault for Salah’s chance, rarely let the Liverpool winger get more than an arm’s length away from him for the rest of the game.

He was canny in how and when he fouled Salah – harassing but never aggressive enough to pick up a booking – while he was on hand to fell the Egyptian before he could get a shot away with Jack Butland out of his goal following a poor spill by the Stoke keeper.

Pieters was lucky too. Liverpool should have had a penalty when Georginio Wijnaldum’s cross struck the Stoke defender’s arm on 87 minutes but referee Andre Marriner and his team waived away the hosts’ appeals.

The visitors were physical but not excessively so – capable of frustrating an in-form attack that has scored 80 Premier League goals this season.

And they had a chance to steal a shock win two minutes from time as Mame Biram Diouf’s effort evaded Loris Karius and the back post, with Shawcross stealing in but unable to turn it in.

Ultimately it was not enough for victory but it was enough to stave off relegation – for now at least.

It is doubtful Stoke would have been in such trouble had they shown such defensive stoicism earlier in the season.

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