Glen Johnson and Simon Mignolet were the unlikely stars in Liverpool’s win…
Match report: Liverpool 1-0 Stoke City – Brendan Rodgers’ side ended a run of three straight league defeats, as Glen Johnson’s late winner handed the Reds their first win since mid-October.
After an uninspiring first-half in which both teams struggled to create chances, Liverpool slowly cranked up the pressure in the second period, with Lucas Leiva, Rickie Lambert and Joe Allen all missing chances.
Stoke also had opportunities against the run of play, with Mame Biram Diouf having a shot saved by Simon Mignolet, and another effort cleared off the line by Raheem Sterling.
But Liverpool’s pressure took its toll five minutes from time when Lambert’s header struck the crossbar, and Johnson bravely dived in to force the ball past Asmir Begovic, earning himself a nasty cut to the head for his troubles.
There was still time for former Barcelona striker Bojan Krkic to go close in stoppage time, forcing another excellent stop from Mignolet, who fully justified his place in the team after suggestions earlier this week that he could be dropped.
Steven Gerrard, on the 16 year anniversary of his first-team debut, was a late substitute, replacing the impressive Lucas, but did well as his fresh legs drove the team forward in the closing stages.
Another first-team regular from the season so far, £20 summer signing Dejan Lovren, was also left on the bench, as Kolo Toure kept his place in the team alongside Martin Skrtel. The struggling Croatian came on in the final stages as the Reds protected their lead.