Liverpool missed a chance to move into the Premier League's top five as they were held to a sixth draw in their last eight home league games by Stoke City.

Dirk Kuyt squandered the hosts' best chance late on, heading Jose Enrique's deflected cross wide from eight yards.

Martin Skrtel nodded over, but the Reds were mainly restricted to long-range efforts and substitute Andy Carroll's string of hopeful penalty shouts.

Matthew Etherington's powerful first-half shot was the closest Stoke came.

But Potters keeper Thomas Sorensen did not have to make a meaningful save as Tony Pulis's well-marshalled troops limited Kenny Dalglish's side to as few chances as any side to visit Anfield this season.

Liverpool and Manchester City started the day as the only sides unbeaten at home in the top flight and history suggested that Stoke, who had visited Anfield on 48 previous occasions without a win, would not be the first to win there this season.

Dalglish wants Liverpool attacking edge

The absence of a home defeat hides the fact that Liverpool had won only four of their previous 10 league matches at Anfield. And, with Daniel Agger missing, Dalglish's selection of a five-man backline, with the hard-working Kuyt as a lone frontman, looked ill-equipped to overwhelm a well-drilled Stoke side.

The hosts enjoyed the majority of possession but, despite Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson eagerly breaking from midfield in support of Kuyt and the introduction of Carroll and Craig Bellamy off the bench after the break, their attempts to thread their way through the heart of the Stoke defence were continually frustrated.

Before Carroll's entry in the 58th minute, there was little aerial threat for the Reds and it was Etherington who came closest in the first half.

After Jamie Carragher had carried the ball upfield in an attempt to spark the attack into life, the winger charged forward to exploit his absence at the back, but his crisp effort was well handled by Pepe Reina.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The last club to end a season in the top four, having been ranked sixth or worse after 20 matches, were Liverpool themselves under Rafa Benitez in 2006/2007 when they finished third.

Charlie Adam had failed to get a decisive touch when an early corner skidded through to him at the back post, while Steven Gerrard, Downing and Henderson all chanced their luck from distance without success as the half drew to a close.

Sorensen's quiet afternoon in the Stoke goal continued after the interval as Glen Johnson dragged wide and it took only 12 second-half minutes before Dalglish introduced Carroll.

The crowd were lifted by the appearance of their record signing, who immediately made his presence felt as he wrestled with Robert Huth from a Liverpool corner.

Referee Howard Webb turned down his appeals for a penalty and was similarly unmoved soon after when Carroll and Kuyt felt they were fouled in the box by Ryan Shawcross and Jonathan Woodgate respectively.

A favourable decision from the official looked the home side's likeliest hope of a clear-cut opportunity before Kuyt had a great chance to score without Webb's assistance.

Pulis praises "brilliant" Stoke display

Enrique's deflected cross looped up invitingly for the Dutchman, but his powerful diving header flew the wrong side of the post.

Skrtel's effort bounced tamely over the bar shortly after but Adam's ambitious attempt from just inside his own half, trying to catch Sorensen off his line, summed up Liverpool's disappointing attacking display.

By contrast the visitors, who had taken 17 Premier League points from their previous eight games - a record only Tottenham could match - will reflect on another job well done.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis: "I think their penalty appeals were more out of desperation."

"Apart from Kuyt's effort - which he should have scored - I'm not saying Thomas Sorensen made save after save.

"They are a fantastic crowd here and they could see we were digging in and the players needed some help and by cheering the way they cheered every time ball went in there helped.

"Several referees might have buckled but thankfully Howard is strong and experienced enough to have not."

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Live Text Commentary

94:06 Full time

Full Time The match has reached full-time.

90:00 +2:13

Free kick crossed right-footed by Craig Bellamy, save made by Thomas Sorensen.

90:00 +2:13 Booking

Booking Booking for Jonathan Walters for unsporting behaviour.

90:00 +2:01

Unfair challenge on Sanchez Jose Enrique by Dean Whitehead results in a free kick.

90:00 +0:12

Unfair challenge on Robert Huth by Andy Carroll results in a free kick. Thomas Sorensen takes the free kick.

89:42

Corner taken right-footed by Steven Gerrard from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Dean Whitehead.

89:36

The ball is sent over by Steven Gerrard, clearance made by Robert Huth.

88:44

Ricardo Fuller gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sebastian Coates. Jose Reina takes the free kick.

88:16

The ball is delivered by Steven Gerrard, save made by Thomas Sorensen.

87:32

Corner taken right-footed by Craig Bellamy from the left by-line, clearance by Rory Delap.

87:26

The ball is delivered by Sanchez Jose Enrique, clearance made by Peter Crouch.

86:35

Craig Bellamy takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, Glenn Whelan makes a clearance.

86:35 Substitution

Substitution Ricardo Fuller replaces Matthew Etherington.

85:22

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Craig Bellamy, Close range header by Martin Skrtel goes over the crossbar.

85:16

Andy Carroll sends in a cross, clearance made by Jonathan Walters.

85:07

The ball is swung over by Charlie Adam, Marc Wilson manages to make a clearance.

83:51

The ball is crossed by Martin Skrtel, clearance by Ryan Shawcross.

82:58 Booking

Booking Booking for Thomas Sorensen for time wasting.

82:28

Craig Bellamy delivers the ball, Header from close in by Dirk Kuyt misses to the right of the target.

79:27

Charlie Adam takes a shot from 35+ yards. Save by Thomas Sorensen.

77:51

Ryan Shawcross takes the free kick.

77:51 Substitution

Substitution Andy Wilkinson is brought on as a substitute for Jonathan Woodgate.

77:51

The assistant referee flags for offside against Andy Carroll.

76:47

The ball is sent over by Sanchez Jose Enrique, Header from close range by Dirk Kuyt misses to the right of the target.

76:08

Glen Johnson takes a shot. Blocked by Andy Carroll.

76:01

The ball is crossed by Steven Gerrard, clearance by Robert Huth.

75:52

Glen Johnson sends in a cross, clearance made by Glenn Whelan.

74:30

The ball is crossed by Glen Johnson.

73:06

Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Charlie Adam, clearance made by Ryan Shawcross.

73:06 Substitution

Substitution Craig Bellamy comes on in place of Jordan Henderson.

71:28

Corner taken left-footed by Charlie Adam, save made by Thomas Sorensen.

70:24

The ball is swung over by Sebastian Coates, clearance made by Robert Huth.

69:54

Peter Crouch gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Charlie Adam. Direct free kick taken by Martin Skrtel.

69:15

Robert Huth fouled by Martin Skrtel, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.

68:44

Andy Carroll fouled by Dean Whitehead, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Charlie Adam from left channel, clearance by Ryan Shawcross.

67:06

Jonathan Walters has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the goal.

66:02

Shot by Jordan Henderson. Dean Whitehead gets a block in.

64:19

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Dean Whitehead by Charlie Adam. Thomas Sorensen takes the direct free kick.

63:27

Charlie Adam takes a shot from long distance which goes wide of the right-hand upright.

61:39 Substitution

Substitution (Stoke) makes a substitution, with Dean Whitehead coming on for Wilson Palacios.

61:15

Jordan Henderson takes a shot. Andy Carroll gets a block in.

60:51

The ball is delivered by Sanchez Jose Enrique, clearance made by Ryan Shawcross.

59:07

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Andy Carroll by Robert Huth. Jamie Carragher takes the free kick.

58:36

Charlie Adam is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free kick.

58:19

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Steven Gerrard from the left by-line, clearance made by Ryan Shawcross.

57:55 Substitution

Substitution Stewart Downing goes off and Andy Carroll comes on.

57:32

Stewart Downing crosses the ball, Jonathan Woodgate gets a block in.

56:30

Wilson Palacios concedes a free kick for a foul on Dirk Kuyt. Direct free kick taken by Dirk Kuyt.

55:27

Unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters by Sebastian Coates results in a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Matthew Etherington, Martin Skrtel makes a clearance.

54:53

Centre by Sanchez Jose Enrique, Thomas Sorensen makes a comfortable save.

53:19

Charlie Adam challenges Glenn Whelan unfairly and gives away a free kick. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free kick.

52:00

The ball is delivered by Stewart Downing, Marc Wilson makes a clearance.

50:36

Effort from outside the box by Glen Johnson goes wide right of the target.

50:12

Foul by Robert Huth on Dirk Kuyt, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Charlie Adam.

49:23

Centre by Jordan Henderson, Ryan Shawcross makes a clearance.

48:52

Centre by Stewart Downing, Glenn Whelan manages to make a clearance.

47:46

Corner taken left-footed by Matthew Etherington from the right by-line to the near post, Steven Gerrard makes a clearance.

46:34

Glen Johnson takes a shot. Marc Wilson gets a block in.

46:28

Dirk Kuyt delivers the ball, Rory Delap manages to make a clearance.

46:03

Stewart Downing produces a cross, clearance by Glenn Whelan.

45:27

Centre by Jonathan Woodgate, Martin Skrtel makes a clearance.

45:01

The second half kicks off.

45:00 +1:09 Half time

Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.

45:00 +0:43

The ball is delivered by Steven Gerrard, Jonathan Walters manages to make a clearance.

43:25

The ball is delivered by Glen Johnson.

43:02

A cross is delivered by Stewart Downing, Jonathan Woodgate manages to make a clearance.

42:31

The ball is delivered by Jonathan Walters, clearance by Jamie Carragher.

39:01

Corner taken left-footed by Stewart Downing to the near post, Glenn Whelan makes a clearance.

38:53

Glen Johnson delivers the ball, Robert Huth makes a clearance.

38:04

Centre by Jonathan Woodgate, Martin Skrtel makes a clearance.

36:37

Jordan Henderson takes a shot. Save made by Thomas Sorensen.

34:46

Unfair challenge on Sanchez Jose Enrique by Wilson Palacios results in a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Steven Gerrard from left channel, Robert Huth manages to make a clearance.

33:13

Steven Gerrard takes a shot from 35 yards and went wide of the right-hand upright.

31:39

Shot from just outside the box by Stewart Downing goes over the bar.

28:48

The free kick is swung in right-footed by Steven Gerrard, clearance by Robert Huth.

28:48 Booking

Booking Ryan Shawcross is cautioned.

28:42

Foul by Ryan Shawcross on Charlie Adam, free kick awarded.

26:33

Centre by Martin Skrtel.

26:08

Sanchez Jose Enrique sends in a cross, Marc Wilson makes a clearance.

23:32

Shot from 20 yards by Matthew Etherington. Jose Reina makes a save.

20:32

Charlie Adam concedes a free kick for a foul on Rory Delap. Ryan Shawcross takes the direct free kick.

19:46

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stewart Downing by Jonathan Woodgate. Free kick crossed left-footed by Charlie Adam, Glenn Whelan manages to make a clearance.

16:16

Martin Skrtel sends in a cross, Jonathan Walters manages to make a clearance.

15:27

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Steven Gerrard, save made by Thomas Sorensen.

11:10

Inswinging corner taken by Charlie Adam from the right by-line played to the near post, Jonathan Woodgate makes a clearance.

9:27

Corner taken by Steven Gerrard from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Ryan Shawcross.

8:38

A cross is delivered by Jordan Henderson, comfortable save by Thomas Sorensen.

5:55

Charlie Adam crosses the ball, clearance made by Glenn Whelan.

5:05

Peter Crouch challenges Charlie Adam unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Martin Skrtel.

2:58

Matthew Etherington produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the target.

0:16

Dirk Kuyt is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Ryan Shawcross.

0:00

The match gets underway.

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