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    Stoke City 0-3 Liverpool Match Report

    Liverpool kept up their excellent recent form with an emphatic victory over Stoke City in a controversial encounter at the bet365 Stadium.

    Mohamed Salah scored his 16th and 17th goals for Liverpool to round off the victory, which was secured without the Egyptian's place in a starting line-up that was also missing Philippe Coutinho and captain Jordan Henderson.

    The Reds edged a hard-fought first-half courtesy of a 17th-minute Sadio Mane strike but the outcome could have been very different had three pivotal decisions not awarded in the away side's favour.

    Joe Gomez's ball to Dominic Solanke looked to have gone out of play in the build-up to the opening goal, with Mane transferring the young England striker's pass into his stride before cleverly chipping over Jack Butland from close-range.

    To make matters worse for the home side, they were denied a penalty minutes later when Dejan Lovren appeared to pull the shirt of Peter Crouch as he tried to gain the required leverage to attack a Eric Choupo-Moting cross.

    More discontent was shown by the Stoke fans towards referee Martin Atkinson later in the half when Mame Biram Diouf was fouled by Simon Mignolet on the edge of the penalty area but the Belgian stopper, who was the last man, was only shown a yellow card.

    From the resulting free-kick, Xherdan Shaqiri's strike was deflected wide off the Liverpool wall but the set-piece proved to be Stoke's only effort on target throughout the entire match.

    Liverpool also had chances to extend their lead, with Solanke shooting straight at Lee Grant after a give-and-go involving Roberto Firmino before Mane fired an effort against the outside of the post when clean-through on goal.

    Mark Hughes' side then had two golden chances to draw level after the interval, both falling to Joe Allen, but the former Liverpool midfielder's left-footed strike was deflected wide of a gaping net and he later fired a half-volley over the crossbar from eight yards.

    Allen's profligacy in front of goal proved costly in the final 15 minutes of the encounter when his tiring side were cut open twice by the visitors, which gave the prolific Mohamed Salah the chance to seal the win in emphatic style.

    Salah scored the all-important second goal when he beat Grant with an exquisite left-footed volley from just outside the six yard-box after excellent wing-play and a cleverly-dinked cross from Mane had created the opportunity.

    Five minutes later, Salah capitalised on some hesitancy shown by Erik Pieters, who was dispossessed after allowing a Emre Can through-ball to bounce, and the Egyptian winger coolly slotted the ball past Grant from 10 yards to end the contest.

    The victory could have been even more resounding for Liverpool if Georginio Wijnaldum, who has never scored an away goal during his three seasons in English football, had not been denied by Grant who tipped a late free-kick over the crossbar.

    Liverpool's reward for a thoroughly efficient performance is to move up a place from sixth to fifth in the table ahead of a trip to newly-promoted Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

    Meanwhile Stoke, who drop a place from 15th to 16th after the defeat, will need to put their grievances behind them when they return to action this weekend against fellow-strugglers Swansea City at the bet365 Stadium.
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    Item Reviewed: Stoke City 0-3 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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