Suarez centre of attention for all the right reasons
Liverpool 1 QPR 0
Published 11/12/2011 | 05:00
No controversy, no DVD defence and no work for the Football Association courtesy of Luis Suarez this weekend; just a decisive goal from him that brought an overdue home win for Liverpool and spared them from another interrogation into their forgotten art of finishing. It was timely of the Uruguay international to issue a reminder of why £22.8m had been spent on him in January.
Suarez's reputation may owe more to notoriety than his undoubted brilliance but both sides to his character keep him central to every performance and Liverpool's prospects. They moved above Newcastle United in the table after a first home win in five attempts against a Queens Park Rangers team that, aside from a late rally which ensured Anfield remained on edge, could find solace only in the slender margin of their defeat.
"The headlines don't matter but at least they'll be nice headlines tomorrow," said Kenny Dalglish, whose successor in the red No 7 shirt landed an FA charge for allegedly giving the finger to Fulham supporters at Craven Cottage on Monday. "Luis scored with a header, which doesn't happen too often," Dalglish said. "And I thought he played really well. Some of the football we played was brilliant." Brilliant until sight of the opposition goal, that was.
Apart from showing a DVD of Fulham's misdemeanours against the former Ajax striker, Dalglish had also used his pre-match press conference to call for an end to the profligacy that has cost Liverpool repeatedly at home. It appeared the appeal would go unheeded until Suarez finally rediscovered his scoring touch moments after the restart.
From the opening whistle Liverpool swarmed forward relentlessly, found space behind the QPR defenders and engineered chances repeatedly. For 45 minutes they squandered them all, with Suarez the chief culprit. His wasteful first half commenced when he placed a free header straight into the grasp of goalkeeper Radek Cerny after being found unmarked by Stewart Downing. He was then unfortunate with an attempt to beat Cerny inside his near post, before slicing horribly wide with his right foot when he should have taken Maxi Rodriguez's pass with the left. Soon afterwards he was foiled at close range by the visiting keeper and sent the rebound out for a throw-in on the opposite side of the pitch.
But he was not alone in his profligacy. Rodriguez benefited from Dirk Kuyt's industry and vision to race clean through on goal only for Cerny to produce a fine save. It would not be the only time the outstanding Czech, playing because of injury to Paddy Kenny, thwarted the Argentinian. Daniel Agger allowed another Downing centre to roll under his boot in front of the Rangers' goal on the stroke of half-time yet, with Anfield rueing a familiar script, Liverpool produced. Charlie Adam delivered a delightful cross from the left and Suarez was left scandalously unmarked in the centre to head beyond Cerny for his first league goal since October 1.
"I'm disappointed with the goal but they were the better side," admitted QPR boss Neil Warnock. "Luke [Young] has held his hands up in the dressing room. He had Suarez at the corner but then lost him. But Suarez was amazing today."
The breakthrough should have been the cue for Liverpool to ease to victory but that is not how Dalglish's team operate on home soil at present. Cerny produced a stunning save from Rodriguez, changing direction and dropping low to his left to tip the midfielder's volley onto the post from a Suarez cross, then denied the former Atletico Madrid captain once more after he exchanged a series of passes with the Liverpool goalscorer.
Reprieved, as they were again when Shaun Wright-Phillips struck his own bar, the visitors besieged Jose Reina's goal in the dying moments but there was no way through.
Sunday Indo Sport