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    Liverpool 0-0 Stoke City Match Report


    Liverpool edged closer towards qualification for next season's Champions League despite having to settle for a point against relegation strugglers Stoke City.

    The Reds produced a lackluster display following the jubilation of their 5-2 victory over Roma in the Champions League semi-final just four days earlier, while they were also frustrated by a battling performance from the visitors.

    Jurgen Klopp's team went into the match knowing that a victory would all-but confirm their top-four status with two matches of the season remaining, but relegation-threatened Stoke desperately needed a win themselves.

    The German made five changes to his starting XI ahead of Wednesday's second-leg tie against Roma, which gave the likes of Danny Ings, Alberto Moreno and Joe Gomez a rare chance to impress.

    Mohamed Salah, who scored two goals on Tuesday night, almost gave his side the best possible start after only five minutes when he uncharacteristically chipped the ball wide of goal following Jordan Henderson's exquisite through-ball.

    Trent Alexander-Arnold also went close in the first-half when he was denied by a sprawling save from Jack Butland, while Salah was unfortunate when his 20-yard free-kick went inches wide of the upright

    The Reds finally appeared to have taken the lead shortly before the break as Danny Ings, who rifled home from a tight angle, was correctly adjudged to be offside after Georginio Wijnaldum's strike had been blocked by Erik Pieters.

    Stoke also went close to scoring in the first-half but neither Mame Biram Diouf or Peter Crouch were able to test Loris Karius, who remained largely underworked in the Liverpool goal throughout the afternoon.

    The Senegalese international headed into the side-netting from a tight angle following Moritz Bauer's delicate ball to the back-post, while former Anfield favourite Crouch was inches away from tapping home from a Xherdan Shaqiri cross.

    Chances were less plentiful after the break as the visitors frustrated Klopp's team with a resolute display, although they also relied on a touch of fortune in order to leave Anfield with a hard-earned point.

    Kurt Zouma was close to swiping an Alberto Moreno cross into his own net as he attempted to prevent Salah scoring at the back-post, while the outstretched hand of Pieters stopped a Wijnaldum cross from reaching the incoming Moreno.

    The Potters could even have come away from Anfield with the rarest of victories but Ryan Shawcross was unable to turn the ball into an empty net as he attacked a late Diouf cross from the tightest of angles.

    It was the fifth time that Paul Lambert's side have drawn throughout their winless run of 12 matches, although they live to fight another day after 17th-place Swansea failed to beat Chelsea later in the evening.

    Stoke, who have the worst goal-difference in the entire division, trail The Swans in the table by three points, while 18th-place Southampton recorded a rare victory on Saturday to move a point away from safety themselves.

    The Potters must win both their final two matches in order to extend their Premier League status for another season, with Crystal Palace and Swansea the two teams that will now determine the club's top-flight future.

    Liverpool, meanwhile, know that a point at Chelsea on Sunday afternoon will ensure that the club retain their top-four status, while a win against Brighton a week later would also be enough if Antonio Conte's side win their remaining three matches.

    The Reds remain third in the table ahead of Wednesday night's Champions League semi-final against Italian side Roma, where they take a 5-2 lead into the second-leg at the Stadio Olimpico.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 0-0 Stoke City Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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