Liverpool suffered Boxing Day defeat as it went down 3-1 to Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.
The Reds took the lead after just two minutes of play when Luis Suarez was bustled to the ground by Ryan Shawcross, and Steven Gerrard stepped up to slot the subsequent penalty past Asmir Begovic.
The travelling Kop were elated, but they would soon be silenced as just three minutes later, boyhood Evertonian Jonathan Walters seized upon a Martin Skrtel mistake and slotted the ball home to equalize.
Then, in the 12th minute, the home side capped a frenetic opening by taking the lead in the encounter. Glenn Whelan whipped an in-swinging corner into the middle, Kenwyne Jones rose above the Liverpool defense, and the tall forward nodded the ball past Pepe Reina for 2-1.
Stewart Downing almost carved an opening for the Reds just before the half-hour mark when he fed Gerrard, who fired wide from the edge of the box. Then Suarez exchanged passes with the winger before arrowing over the crossbar.
Reina kept the deficit to just a goal when he raced out to deny Matthew Etherington, who had found acres of space inside the Liverpool penalty area and was poised to fire in Stoke’s third.
However, three minutes after the interval, the Potters doubled their advantage thanks to a fine piece of skill from Walters. Jones flicked the ball into his path and he controlled with his chest before volleying into the top right corner of Reina’s goal.
Gerrard forced Begovic into a fine, sprawling save with little time remaining in the game when he tried to curl home from the edge of the box but the damage had already been done and Stoke ran-out 3-1 winners.
Liverpoolfc.com journalists’ man of the match: Steven Gerrard.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com