Belfast Telegraph

Stoke halt Reds revival

Liverpool's stuttering mini-revival petered out in dismal fashion as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.

A six-match unbeaten run came to end as they were out-fought, out-played and out-manoeuvred by Tony Pulis' side.

Ricardo Fuller opened the scoring just after half-time and Kenwyne Jones completed a comprehensive victory in the final minute before Lucas Leiva was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Roy Hodgson's side appeared unprepared and unable to deal with their hosts' brash, energetic approach which allowed them to dominate the game from start to finish.

Stoke appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty in only the second minute when Maxi Rodriguez leant heavily on Fuller as they challenged for Rory Delap's long throw.

It was a sign of things to come as the visitors found themselves being forced back, looking worrying susceptible to Delap's trademark set-piece.

Liverpool's inability to cope with those long throws finally cost them in the 56th minute. A scramble saw the ball break to Matthew Etherington at the far post and his cross-shot bounced back off Paul Konchesky to Fuller, whose had his first effort blocked but stabbed home the second from close range.

Jones almost made it two when Martin Skrtel mistimed his jump but his left-footed effort beat both Pepe Reina and the far post. However, Liverpool's embarrassment was completed in the 90th minute when Steven Gerrard gave the ball away and Jones was able to skip past Skrtel to fire home.

The dismissal of Lucas just compounded matters, as he was sent off for a second yellow card late on.

Reds boss Hodgson left the Britannia Stadium to chants of "Dalglish" - a reference to former player and manager Kenny - ringing in his ears.

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