Walters shows his class as Stoke victory bucks Rodgers’ Reds

Republic of Ireland international Jonathan Walters showed that Stoke can be entertaining on the pitch as they hit three against Liverpool to claim a deserved three points.

Walters shows his class as Stoke victory bucks Rodgers’ Reds

Steven Gerrard’s second-minute spot kick got Liverpool off to a flying start but they were pegged back almost immediately by Walters and soon after Kenwyne Jones put the Potters ahead.

Walters secured the points in the second half with a tasty finish and despite late pressure from the visitors, it was Stoke who took the three points.

“We all work for each other, right from the back to the front. It was a full team effort from us today and a great win for us,” said Walters.

“From 1-0 down we showed great character to get back into the game and some good play from all over the team, especially the second half.”

When these sides met earlier in the season, Luis Suarez was blasted by Stoke boss Tony Pulis for a despicable dive in the area that went unpunished by the officials and while he did not get anything that day, he did last night — although this was no simulation.

Suarez was booed when his name was called out over the PA system before kick-off and Pulis will have been aghast to see the Uruguayan go over in the area in the second minute at the Britannia last night.

Ryan Shawcross was the man adjudged to have pulled him down in the area and referee Howard Webb did not hesitate before pointing to the spot and Gerrard stepped up to slot it into the bottom corner — just the fourth goal Stoke have conceded at home this season.

These two sides could not have more different football philosophies with Stoke’s rough and ready style often criticised and their long-ball approach chastised as ugly but yet again it proved successful.

A long punt forward by Shawcross was flicked on by Kenwyne Jones and Walters latched onto the end of hit before firing past Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. The goal was timed in the fifth minute with the Reds fans behind Reina’s goal still celebrating their side’s opener.

The last two times these sides have met have been dour goalless draws but not this time as the supporters were treated to a scintillating St Stephen’s Day clash with Jones making it 2-1 in the 12th minute.

The Potters’ striker rose to head Glenn Whelan’s corner with Shawcross deflecting it on, but it was the big frontman who celebrated.

Liverpool came into this game on the back of a 4-0 demolition of Fulham at the weekend that proved they were still in with a chance of a top-four place, but they knew away at Stoke would be a much sterner test.

Especially since they have not won on the four visits to the ground in Premier League history but Gerrard had a chance to level the game up moments later but he hit a tame effort wide with Asmir Begovic, the Stoke goalkeeper, seemingly beaten.

Raheem Sterling was brought on at the break for the Suso and the 18-year-old almost made an instant impact as he weaved through down the left win before crossing for Suarez but the Uruguayan fluffed his chance.

Then in the 49th minute Stoke got another as Andy Wilkinson’s long throw was flicked on by Jones and Walters showed some brilliant skill to chest the ball before volleying home.

Reina got his fingertips to it but it was not enough and the boyhood Evertonian looked set to put Liverpool to the sword.

The Stoke fans sang “3-1 to the rugby team” as they mocked critics who belittle their approach but it is hard to argue with its effectiveness.

Liverpool pushed forward for a way back into the game with Jordan Henderson brought on for Lucas but when Suarez was played through he could not reach the ball and followed through on Begovic before Webb handed him yellow for his troubles.

Suarez did have the ball in the net then but it was ruled out as Henderson had handled.

The home fans sang ‘can we play you every week’ to their Liverpool counterparts and they may have meant it as they had scored just eight at home before last night.

STOKE (4-4-2): Begovic 6; Cameron 5, Shawcross 5, Huth 6, Wilkinson 6; Kightly 6 (Whitehead 69, 6), Nzonzi 7, Whelan 7, Etherington 5 (Shotton 83, 5); Walters 7, Jones 7 (Crouch 77, 6).

LIVERPOOL (4-2-3-1): Reina 7; Johnson 4, Skrtel 5, Agger 6, Enrique 5; Lucas 6 (Henderson 60, 5), Gerrard 7; Downing 6 (Cole 76, 6), Shelvey 4, Suso 4 (Sterling 46, 6); Suarez 6.

Referee: Howard Webb

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