New Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet saved a late penalty to earn his side a deserved 1-0 win over Stoke City in a frenetic opening match of the Premier League season at Anfield on Saturday.
Striker Daniel Sturridge put Liverpool ahead in the first half with a firm shot from 20 metres and Mignolet plunged to his right to keep out Jonathan Walters’s spot-kick a minute from time.
Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho pulled the strings for Liverpool and Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic made several fine saves before Sturridge struck after 37 minutes, drilling a low left-foot shot into the corner of the net.
Midfielder Jordan Henderson hit the post in the second half as Liverpool poured forward in search of another goal but Begovic continued to defy the hosts who are bidding to win the league title for the first time since 1990.
Stoke threatened occasionally on the break and they were awarded a penalty when Liverpool defender Daniel Agger needlessly handled a long Charlie Adam free kick.
But Mignolet, who had endured a nervous debut, palmed away a weak effort by Walters to spark wild celebrations around the ground.
Five matches start at 1400 GMT – Arsenal host Aston Villa, Norwich City meet Everton, Sunderland face Fulham, West Bromwich Albion take on Southampton and promoted Cardiff City travel to West Ham United.
Champions Manchester United begin the defence of their title at Swansea City in the late kickoff.