Downing and Suarez strikes key for Liverpool’s season

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While much attention will be focused on Fernando Torres’ return to the score sheet, we must not forget a similar story of goal-drought at Anfield.


Kenny Dalglish’s side had been suffering from a goal shortage up until this week and the victory over Stoke City in their FA Cup quarter-final was a perfect follow on from the 3-0 rout of Everton last Tuesday.


Steven Gerrard scored a hat-tick in the Merseyside derby and two of the Reds other struggling attackers managed to relieve some of their goal-front frustration.


Luis Suarez scored his first goal since the victory over Brighton & Hove Albion a month ago and it was a fine goal at that, curling a shot for 20 yards into the bottom corner of Thomas Sorensen’s goal.


The Uruguayan has had to suffer a substantial amount of bad press this season; from the eight-game suspension for racially abusing Patrice Evra of Manchester United, to the complaints by rival managers over his histrionics and tendency to go to ground too easily.


Amongst all this he has been performing well since he returned to action in the draw with Tottenham Hotspur at the beginning of February, but he has not been able to finish the chances he was creating regularly.


It was just his 11th goal in all competitions for Liverpool this season, which is a paltry return for a player who was prolific with his previous side Ajax.


Dalglish was beginning to attract some criticism over the Anfield club’s performances in the league this season, but these critical voices were silenced for the time being after Gerrard’s derby heroics.


The win over Everton was their most convincing for a long while – other than the cup games with lower league opponents – and it seems the bug is spreading through out the team.


Liverpool fans will be hoping the 25-year-old’s strike against a stubborn Tony Pulis side can spark the club into a run of results to make a proper challenge for the top four and a second cup triumph in the year.


It will be welcome relief to Suarez but greater relief will be felt by another of Liverpool’s beleaguered stars, who had been suffering an equalling bad footballing plight up until now.


Stewart Downing scored the goal that sent the Reds though to the semi-finals where they could face another derby with their rivals in Blue should David Moyes’ men overcome Sunderland in their replay next week.


Downing has been a figure of ridicule since his big-money move from Aston Villa in the summer and has had to suffer similar criticism to that of Andy Carroll and, maybe a lesser extent, Fernando Torres.


It was only his second goal of the season but it was his first strike against what can be considered serious opposition – his first came in the 5-1 mauling of League One side Oldham Athletic in the third round.


The winner against Stoke was just rewards for Downing, who has been working hard out on the Liverpool left and it is fair to suggest his team-mates have not been capitalising enough from his toil out wide.


Liverpool are one of the sides in the Premier League who cross the most and that has a lot to do with Downing, the problem is they also have one of the lowest percentages for the amount of headed goals they score.


At Villa Downing was known for his dangerous delivery and racked up a number of assists in his time there, but his new colleagues at Anfield have so far proved unable to profit quite so well.


The England international has been guilty of wasting a number of chances to get on the score sheet this season, but his main job is to provide the chances and he has been doing so relatively well over the season.


It is just rewards for the 27-year-old for sheer effort and you could see from hi s celebration that it meant a great deal to him.


Downing still has a way to go to convince some the Premier League audience that he can live up to his price tag and standing as a regular for one of the biggest clubs in the world and the England national team.


Liverpool’s luck has been out for sometime when it comes to converting chances, with both players and staff at a loss to explain why they miss so many chances when dominating games.


The victory over the Potters could be the beginning of the end to an agonising period where goals were a rarity.


Dalglish will be hoping his under-fire stars have begun to emerge from that scoring malaise and that Liverpool will now be able make a significant difference to the end of season honours race.

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Premier League
Fernando Torres
FA Cup
Luis Suarez

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