Liverpool vs. Stoke City  2 - 1

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FA Cup: Liverpool 2 Stoke 1

18 March 2012 19:22

Liverpool kept their hopes of a cup double alive with a 2-1 win over Stoke at Anfield sending them into the FA Cup semi-finals.

Luis Suarez put Liverpool ahead in the 23rd minute, but Stoke hit back just three minutes later through a Peter Crouch header.

Stewart Downing came through when it mattered for the Merseyside club, and his goal - his first since making the switch from Aston Villa in the off-season - just before the hour mark put Liverpool into the last four.

The Reds started the game well and had a good opportunity to take the lead after just three minutes when an unmarked Maxi Rodriguez headed just wide of the post from a dangerous Steven Gerrard free-kick.

After a quiet opening 20 minutes, Liverpool sprang to life and took the lead through Suarez, who picked the ball up in the Stoke half and played a lovely one-two with Rodriguez before striking a great shot past Thomas Sorensen in the Stoke goal.

Stoke responded immediately and were level within three minutes through Crouch, who headed home Matthew Etherington's corner from close range after escaping his marker Andy Carroll.

There was controversy, however, as the decision to award the corner in the first place was proved incorrect as the ball had originally deflected off Ryan Shawcross before going out of play.

Stoke had an excellent opportunity to take the lead when Dean Whitehead broke upfield and slid a wonderful through ball to Jonathan Walters, who beat Martin Skrtel for pace but could not put his effort on target after breaking into box.

Crouch's goal knocked Liverpool out of their good early rhythm but late in the half they rallied and came close to regaining their advantage as Suarez's chipped effort was well saved by Sorensen and a Gerrard free-kick went just over the bar.

Kenny Dalglish's side came out for the second-half reinvigorated and were within a few inches of taking the lead through Suarez as he headed Gerrard's free-kick just wide of the post with Sorensen beaten.

Liverpool began to dominate possession and got their reward when Downing struck in the 58th minute after he cut inside from the right and took advantage of a deflection that knocked the ball into his stride.

The former Villa winger made no mistake, lashing the ball into the net with a ferocious left-footed shot.

Liverpool were beginning to up the ante and could have gone further ahead if not for a good save from Sorensen who dove well to his right to stop a Suarez effort from distance, with the ball looking headed for the corner.

Pulis added more firepower upfront by bringing on Cameron Jerome but the visitors failed to find that final bit of quality needed to get an equaliser and deliveries from Jermaine Pennant and Etherington were disappointing.

Stoke tried everything towards the end of the game, including several long throws into the box, but Liverpool held on to win.

They now head to Wembley in the last four of the competition, where they will meet either Everton or Sunderland.

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FA Cup preview: Reds chase domestic double

17 March 2012 00:48

Liverpool's quest to secure a trophy double this campaign continues on Sunday when they host Stoke City in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

The Reds returned to winning form in the Merseyside derby with Everton on Tuesday, as inspirational captain Steven Gerrard nabbed a hat-trick to move them two points behind sixth-placed Newcastle United in the Premier League.

The win ended a three-game losing streak in the league and gave Kenny Dalglish's side plenty to build on ahead of their date with last season's FA Cup finalists.

Tony Pulis' Stoke are virtually assured of top-flight football next season, with a 14-point buffer on the relegation places allowing the Britannia Stadium outfit to focus on trying to go one better in the FA Cup this term.

Stoke's campaign has seen them avoid Premier League opposition and included wins over Gillingham, Derby and Crawley Town.

All of those fixtures have come away from home and they will once again hit the road to face the Reds in front of their partisan fans at Anfield.

Also on Sunday, Chelsea take on Leicester City at Stamford Bridge, the latter being the only non-Premier League side remaining in the competition.

The Championship side, managed by Nigel Pearson, defeated rivals Birmingham City midweek in a massive confidence boost heading into the away tie.

Chelsea, meanwhile, will look to continue building momentum under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo.

The former West Brom boss will be looking to make his mark in London, and any piece of silverware his side can claim this term will see the Italian firm as a potential permanent boss after season's end.

Elsewhere, Everton host Sunderland at Goodison Park on Saturday, fresh from their trouncing by rivals Liverpool.

David Moyes' men had gone 10 matches unbeaten prior to their loss at Anfield, while Sunderland most recently defeated Liverpool 1-0 in the league.

Martin O'Neill's Sunderland manufactured a 2-0 win over Arsenal in the fifth round, with wins over Middlesbrough and Peterborough preceding that for the North-East club.

Everton's run to the final eight has been their best since they reached the final in 2009, with the club still in contention for its first title since they lifted the prestigious trophy in 1995.

Also on Saturday, Tottenham will host Bolton at White Hart Lane looking to overcome a form slump.

Harry Redknapp's men have lost three straight league games and were forced to a replay to get past League One's Stevenage in the fifth round.

Bolton surpassed Championship side Milwall to reach the final eight and, following league losses to big clubs Chelsea and Manchester City, defeated Queens Park Rangers 2-1.

The Reebok Stadium side are still struggling in the league, sitting just a point above the drop zone.

Owen Coyle's Bolton made the semi-finals in the FA Cup last season before getting thrashed by Stoke.

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Big clubs avoid each other in FA Cup

19 February 2012 19:32

The big clubs remaining in the FA Cup have managed to avoid each other in the quarter-finals.

The draw for the last eight was conducted on Sunday, with none of Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool to play each other should they make it through to the next round.

Leicester City face a trip to either Chelsea or Birmingham after they drew their fifth round tie on Saturday, while Bolton awaits for Stevenage or Tottenham, who will contest a replay next week after their 0-0 draw on Sunday.

Liverpool's 7-1 rout of Brighton means they will host Stoke City, who won through to the last eight with a 2-0 win over Crawley Town on Sunday.

Everton will host Sunderland in the last of the quarter-finals, with the ties to be played over the weekend of March 17-18.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 35 +52 80
2 35 +41 75
3 33 +54 71
4 35 +21 70
5 35 +23 69

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
8 35 +5 49
9 35 -15 46
10 35 -10 44
11 35 -13 43
12 35 -10 37