'Positive' point after scrappy stoke dig in

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp (centre) gestures at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield in Liverpool, on April 28, 2018.
Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp (centre) gestures at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield in Liverpool, on April 28, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Klopp accepts Anfield stalemate, but captain Henderson blasts missed penalty call late on

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was satisfied with a goal-less draw against Stoke City in the Premier League yesterday, but captain Jordan Henderson blamed the officials for their inability to claim all three points at Anfield.

Liverpool players vociferously appealed for a penalty three minutes from time when the ball struck the arm of Erik Pieters inside the box from Georginio Wijnaldum's cross but referee Andre Marriner waved them away.

"It looked a clear penalty," Henderson said. "If his hand isn't there, Alberto (Moreno) is there for a tap-in, so it is a poor decision from the referee and the linesman, and it has cost us three points."

Klopp agreed his side should have been awarded a penalty but was content to reach 72 points.

He took comfort from his men finishing the game unscathed ahead of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg against Roma. With a 5-2 lead after the first leg in midweek, Liverpool controlled for long periods yesterday without overexerting themselves in search of a winner.

"First of all I take a point, it is positive even if we had more possession and all that, but today was a difficult, intense time for us," said the German after watching his side finish with 72 per cent ball possession.

"No-one was seriously injured so we carry on."

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  • YESTERDAY

    Liverpool 0 Stoke 0

    Southampton 2 Bournemouth 1

    Crystal Palace 5 Leicester 0

    Huddersfield 0 Everton 2

    Burnley 0 Brighton 0

    Newcastle 0 West Brom 1

    Swansea v Chelsea Late kick-off

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The stalemate left Liverpool with a healthy cushion over fifth-placed Chelsea, who travelled to Swansea later yesterday, and in need of a maximum of four points from their last two league matches to guarantee qualification into next season's Champions League.

Klopp made five changes from the side which beat Roma, with Sadio Mane the most notable absentee from the starting line-up with a thigh problem.

Mohamed Salah, by his exceptionally high standards, endured a rare off day. It was the first time since Liverpool's match against Swansea on Dec 26 that he has not found the net in the league on home turf.

The Egypt international did have a golden opportunity to score his 32nd league goal of the season in the fifth minute. He was sent clear but clipped the ball wide.

The Reds hit the target just twice - the fewest at home in the league this term. They produced the most shots (20) in a home league game without scoring since the 2-0 defeat against Chelsea in April 2014.

Stoke went close at the death when Mame Diouf's low cross flashed across the area with nobody able to apply the decisive touch. The Potters remain in the drop zone with only two games left to avoid slipping into the Championship.

Said Stoke manager Paul Lambert: "We deserved it. We came with a good game plan and played a really good game; the commitment, throwing bodies into challenges, and we might have nicked it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 29, 2018, with the headline ''Positive' point after scrappy stoke dig in'. Print Edition | Subscribe