Reading 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool's faint hopes of European qualification suffered a further setback as Reading held them to a second successive draw on an afternoon of frustration.
Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy produced a man-of-the-match display with a string of outstanding saves.
Liverpool had a host of chances, with Luis Suarez going closest with a chip that was cleared off the line.
Reading twice went close late on but Liverpool's Pepe Reina stood firm.
This was a result that did little to cheer either manager. It was the first time in 14 months that Liverpool had failed to score in consecutive matches and although it ended a run of seven successive defeats for Reading, it did little to keep alive Nigel Adkins' increasingly desperate battle against relegation.
Brendan Rodgers had warned his players of the need to take care of the "ugly bits" in order to mount a late charge for European football next season. Too often this campaign Liverpool have slipped up against teams that, on paper, they should have beaten - undermining their momentum and draining them of confidence.
This was a case in point, an afternoon when both teams marked the 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, Liverpool were, once again, unable to turn a turn superiority into success, possession into points. Much of that was down to the performance of 23-year-old McCarthy, who was only in the side because first-choice Adam Federici is injured, but Rodgers cut a frustrated figure at the final whistle.
Liverpool should have put the result beyond doubt before half-time. For 45 minutes their front three bristled with menace - Suarez and Philippe Coutinho swapped places at will, eluding markers, confounding plans and slicing through the Reading backline.
The pair almost had Liverpool ahead early on, the young Brazilian playing Suarez through only for his delicately floated chip to be headed off the line by the retreating Chris Gunter. Daniel Sturridge also went close.
Coutinho was providing the vision and the craft, Suarez the quick feet and the jet heels. But while Liverpool dominated, McCarthy stood firm time and time again. He denied all three of the Reds forwards before half-time, tipping Coutinho's low shot wide, pushing Suarez's effort away and denying Sturridge from close range.
Adrian Mariappa threw himself in front of Steven Gerrard's volley, but this was a familiar story for Liverpool - dominant but not decisive, style but no substance.
Within five minutes of the restart Liverpool had the ball in the net, only to see Coutinho's deft back-heeled flick correctly chalked off for offside. As the time ticked away, Reading grew in confidence as they added midfield creativity to their defensive resilience. Liverpool, weighed down by the burden of expectation, lost their way.
Moments after Coutinho's low shot brushed the outside of the post, Reading broke forward to create their best chance of the match. Pavel Pogrebnyak surged down the left and his low cross found Noel Hunt six yards out, only for Reina to deny the Ireland striker with an instinctive save.
The Spaniard made an equally impressive stop moments later, tipping Jobi McAnuff's deflected shot over the bar as Reading sensed an opportunity to snatch all three points. Liverpool continued to threaten, however, but time and again they found McCarthy in uncompromising mood.
The young goalkeeper denied Gerrard once again and twice more repelled shots from Suarez, while McAnuff's late appeal for a penalty was waved away by referee Mark Clattenburg.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers:
"We created enough chances to win a couple of games. We are very disappointed we didn't win. Their goalkeeper was outstanding and on another day the goals go in. I can't ask anything more of the players except that we should have been a wee bit more clinical. It was as good a goalkeeping performance as I have seen in a long time. Young Alex has all the attributes to be a top, top 'keeper. He is 6ft 5in, he has great feet and he has made a series of fantastic saves. But I have got no complaints with my team. Our creativity and movement was very good. But we just didn't do final bit and that is to the ball in the net and that cost us."
Reading boss Nigel Adkins:
"It is three games I have been in charge at Reading now and once again our attitude and application was top drawer. First 15 minutes they had good possession but our players have kept us in the game and we have had a great opportunity with Noel Hunt late on and Pepe Reina has made a great save.
It was an outstanding goalkeeper performance from Alex McCarthy. Has worked really hard to make sure we pick up a point today. It is only a one point, when we need three - we know where we are."
- 21 McCarthy
- 02 Gunter
- 06 Mariappa
- 15 Morrison
- 27 Kelly
- 04 Karacan (Daniel Carrico - 57' )
- 11 McAnuff
- 20 Guthrie Booked
- 07 Pogrebnyak (Blackman - 73' Booked )
- 10 Hunt (Le Fondre - 79' )
- 12 McCleary
- 41 Taylor
- 05 Pearce
- 23 Harte
- 08 Leigertwood
- 29 Daniel Carrico
- 09 Le Fondre
- 30 Blackman
- 25 Reina
- 02 Johnson
- 03 Jose Enrique
- 05 Agger
- 23 Carragher
- 08 Gerrard
- 10 Coutinho
- 14 Henderson (Downing - 57' )
- 21 Lucas Booked
- 07 Suarez
- 15 Sturridge
- 01 Jones
- 16 Coates
- 37 Skrtel
- 19 Downing
- 33 Shelvey
- 11 Assaidi
- 30 Suso
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +3:03
Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Save by Alex McCarthy.90:00 +1:25
Luis Suarez produces a drilled right-footed shot from 12 yards. Save made by Alex McCarthy.90:00 +1:12
Effort on goal by Phillippe Coutinho from 20 yards. Blocked by Sean Morrison.89:47
Daniel Sturridge produces a left-footed shot from close in that clears the bar.89:11
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Phillippe Coutinho by Danny Guthrie. Free kick taken by Sanchez Jose Enrique.87:31
Free kick taken by Chris Gunter.87:31 Booking
Booking Booking for Nick Blackman.87:20
Foul by Steven Gerrard on Daniel Carrico, free kick awarded.86:25
Danny Guthrie has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.85:34
Shot by Stewart Downing from 18 yards. Alex McCarthy makes a save.85:15
Luis Suarez takes a shot. Alex McCarthy makes a save.84:44
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Steven Gerrard.84:26
Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Save by Alex McCarthy.83:09
Effort from the edge of the box by Stewart Downing goes wide of the right-hand upright.81:06
Luis Suarez takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Save by Alex McCarthy.80:15
The assistant referee flags for offside against Luis Suarez. Free kick taken by Alex McCarthy.78:31
The referee penalises Luis Suarez for handball. Free kick taken by Alex McCarthy.78:05 Substitution
Substitution Adam Le Fondre replaces Noel Hunt.76:57
Foul by Daniel Carrico on Luis Suarez, free kick awarded. Luis Suarez fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick.
Jobi McAnuff has a drilled shot. Jose Reina makes a save. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Jobi McAnuff from the left by-line.74:43
Foul by Phillippe Coutinho on Chris Gunter, free kick awarded. Danny Guthrie delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel, clearance by Jamie Carragher.74:17
Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Adrian Mariappa gets a block in.72:49
Free kick taken by Jamie Carragher.72:49 Substitution
Substitution Pavel Pogrebnyak leaves the field to be replaced by Nick Blackman.72:49
Noel Hunt handles the ball and concedes a free kick.71:35
Effort on goal by Phillippe Coutinho from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.70:51
Noel Hunt challenges Daniel Agger unfairly and gives away a free kick. Leiva Lucas takes the direct free kick.70:29
The official flags Pavel Pogrebnyak offside. Direct free kick taken by Jose Reina.67:09
Danny Guthrie takes a shot. Blocked by Jamie Carragher.65:22
Noel Hunt takes a shot. Jose Reina makes a save. Shot from deep inside the area by Garath McCleary clears the crossbar.64:28
Shot by Phillippe Coutinho from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.63:11
Free kick awarded for a foul by Noel Hunt on Glen Johnson. Free kick taken by Glen Johnson.61:27
Danny Guthrie takes a shot. Blocked by Leiva Lucas. Corner taken by Stewart Downing from the right by-line to the near post, Adrian Mariappa manages to make a clearance.57:21
Free kick taken by Daniel Agger.56:22 Substitution
Substitution Stewart Downing replaces Jordan Henderson.56:22 Substitution
Substitution Jem Karacan leaves the field to be replaced by Daniel Carrico.56:22
Foul by Chris Gunter on Luis Suarez, free kick awarded.54:47
Jamie Carragher gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Pavel Pogrebnyak. Free kick taken by Stephen Kelly.53:42
Danny Guthrie is penalised for a handball. Daniel Agger restarts play with the free kick.51:33
Luis Suarez produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the target.50:25
Direct free kick taken by Glen Johnson.50:25 Booking
Booking Danny Guthrie goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.50:07
Danny Guthrie gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Daniel Sturridge.48:07
The assistant referee signals for offside against Phillippe Coutinho. Indirect free kick taken by Alex McCarthy.47:18
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jobi McAnuff by Daniel Sturridge. Jobi McAnuff delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, clearance made by Daniel Agger.45:01
The second half kicks off.45:00 +1:03 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.45:00 +0:48
Luis Suarez is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Direct free kick taken by Sean Morrison.43:58
Shot by Jordan Henderson. Save by Alex McCarthy. Inswinging corner taken by Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge has an effort at goal. Alex McCarthy makes a save. Outswinging corner taken by Steven Gerrard from the right by-line played to the near post, Daniel Agger has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the goal.42:44
Effort from a long way out by Daniel Sturridge goes wide left of the target.41:18
Free kick crossed right-footed by Danny Guthrie, clearance by Glen Johnson.41:18 Booking
Booking Leiva Lucas is given a yellow card.41:12
Free kick awarded for a foul by Leiva Lucas on Garath McCleary.38:34
Shot by Phillippe Coutinho from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.34:12
The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Alex McCarthy.33:10
Luis Suarez takes a shot. Alex McCarthy makes a save. Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Save made by Alex McCarthy. Inswinging corner taken by Steven Gerrard.31:18
Danny Guthrie takes the outswinging corner, Steven Gerrard manages to make a clearance.29:31
Jobi McAnuff takes the inswinging corner, Sean Morrison takes a shot. Jose Reina makes a comfortable save. Foul by Glen Johnson on Jobi McAnuff, free kick awarded. Jobi McAnuff takes the direct free kick.24:26
Daniel Sturridge produces a left-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.20:49
Daniel Sturridge takes a shot. Alex McCarthy makes a save. Phillippe Coutinho takes a shot. Save made by Alex McCarthy. Corner taken by Steven Gerrard played to the near post, Jamie Carragher produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.17:22
Outswinging corner taken by Steven Gerrard from the right by-line played to the near post, Noel Hunt makes a clearance.16:20
Luis Suarez is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Alex McCarthy takes the indirect free kick.15:00
Steven Gerrard takes a short corner.14:21
Phillippe Coutinho challenges Jobi McAnuff unfairly and gives away a free kick. Alex McCarthy restarts play with the free kick.13:41
Luis Suarez takes a shot. Sean Morrison manages to make a clearance.12:26
Unfair challenge on Sanchez Jose Enrique by Noel Hunt results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Daniel Agger.11:34
The assistant referee signals for offside against Luis Suarez. Alex McCarthy takes the indirect free kick.9:59
Foul by Daniel Agger on Noel Hunt, free kick awarded. Danny Guthrie takes the free kick.3:56
Corner taken right-footed by Steven Gerrard, clearance made by Pavel Pogrebnyak.3:26
Pavel Pogrebnyak gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Glen Johnson. Free kick taken by Steven Gerrard.1:22
Inswinging corner taken by Jobi McAnuff from the left by-line, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jose Reina by Pavel Pogrebnyak. Direct free kick taken by Jose Reina.0:00
The match begins.
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