Liverpool choke at Stoke

STOKE, United Kingdom, Nov 13, 2010 (AFP) - Ricardo Fuller and Kenwyne Jones scored to earn Stoke a deserved 2-0 win over Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

Tony Pulis's team controlled the entire match and only stout Liverpool defending prevented the Potters from going ahead earlier before Fuller opened the scoring just after half time.

The Reds rarely looked like pulling level and a late effort from Jones ensured they slipped to a fifth English Premier League defeat of the season.

Liverpool's English manager Roy Hodgson leaves the field after their 2-0 defeat in the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Liverpool. AFP

To make matters worse for Liverpool, they lost Lucas to a red card for a second caution in the closing stages.

Stoke attacked from the very start and looked dangerous from a couple of early trademark long throws from Rory Delap.

The first effort saw Maxi Rodriguez bundle Jamaica striker Fuller to the ground before Martin Skrtel had to drag Robert Huth out of the way to head clear.

Fuller drove over the bar from 25 yards as the hosts, who ended a five-match losing run with a 3-2 victory over Birmingham on Tuesday, piled forward at every opportunity.

From another long throw, Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina complained he was being held before the Spaniard pulled off a fine save from Dean Whitehead's drive.

From the Matthew Etherington corner that followed, Jones glanced a header wide from six yards after his marker Sotirios Kyrgiakos had slipped.

Whitehead then narrowly missed the target with a thumping drive after Kyrgiakos had only half-cleared a Ryan Shawcross free kick.

The visitors finally had an effort of their own when England midfielder Steven Gerrard's corner found Kyrgiakos but the Greece defender's header deflected away off Andy Wilkinson.

But soon they were having to defend again when Huth flicked on a Delap throw and former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant came close to turning the ball in at the far post.

Gerrard was finally causing Stoke some problems and a long-range strike was scrambled wide by Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

From the Gerrard corner that followed, Raul Meireles had one shot blocked and then forced a save from Begovic with a stinging shot from distance.

After Lucas gave away possession in midfield, Fuller fed Jones and the striker's drilled cross was turned away by Jamie Carragher ahead of Etherington.

Liverpool were struggling to maintain possession in the Stoke half and when they did, they could not thread the ball through to Fernando Torres and Gerrard missed with another hopeful long-range effort.

After the restart, Carragher produced a desperate clearance to a Shawcross free kick and a header from Jones from the resulting Pennant corner skidded across the Liverpool area.

Liverpool continued to struggle to assert themselves in attack and a free kick from Gerrard bounced harmlessly wide to sum up their frustration.

But in the 56th minute, finally a Delap throw set up Stoke's breakthrough.

Liverpool failed to clear and Huth laid off to Etherington, who crossed, and after Fuller had one effort blocked by Paul Konchesky, he prodded in from six yards to give the hosts a deserved lead.

Liverpool threatened to pull level when Gerrard fed Dirk Kuyt and the Dutchman's cross picked out Rodriguez, whose low drive was held by Begovic.

Then a Gerrard free kick was headed down by Kyrgiakos and Skrtel's stab at goal was deflected wide.

Substitute Ryan Babel hit a hopeful shot well wide as Liverpool's desperation increased but Lucas was sent off for a second yellow card late on after Jones sealed victory in the 90th minute.

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