Stewart Downing produced the most telling contribution of his Liverpool career to fire the Anfield club past Stoke and into the FA Cup semi-finals.

Luis Suarez gave the hosts the lead with a curling 20-yard strike after a one-two with Maxi Rodriguez.

But Peter Crouch's header from a corner earned Stoke a deserved equaliser.

The Reds picked up the pace and were rewarded when Downing drilled a shot past Thomas Sorensen to book a Wembley date with either Everton or Sunderland.

Liverpool's victory fully justified Kenny Dalglish's pre-match assertion that the club are making progress under his stewardship despite an inconsistent Premier League campaign.

ANFIELD BLUES

  • Stoke have not won at Anfield since 1959

And the Reds are now two Wembley wins away from a cup double in the Scot's first full season since returning to the club where he enjoyed success after success as a player and manager between 1977 and 1991.

Stoke, runners-up last season, fully deserved to be level at half-time after a combative display full of energy and purpose, but after Downing's intervention they never really looked likely to fashion an equaliser.

Liverpool's early attacks lacked finesse, with several final balls going astray until Suarez decided to take matters into his own hands.

Running with the ball towards the heart of the Stoke defence, he exchanged passes with Maxi and curled a delightful shot into the bottom corner.

Stoke responded with a sustained offensive on the Liverpool goal that swiftly produced an equaliser as Crouch shrugged off the attentions of Andy Carroll and headed a Matthew Etherington corner past Pepe Reina.

The home goalkeeper was booked for protesting in the aftermath, with replays showing that a goal-kick, rather than a corner, should have been awarded.

With Liverpool's passing devoid of the fluency that marked the recent home displays against Arsenal and Everton, Stoke came closest to taking the lead before half-time.

Dean Whitehead's slide-rule pass put Jonathan Walters in behind the Reds defence on the right but his powerful shot flew well wide of the near post.

Liverpool began the second half on the front foot as Gerrard tested Sorensen from long range and a Suarez header from a Downing free-kick fizzed across goal.

Then came Downing's moment, as he burst into the box from the right flank and, after benefiting from a deflection off Gerrard's heel, smashed a left-footed shot back across Sorensen and into the net.

Despite the introduction of fresh legs, Stoke struggled to cope with wave after wave of Liverpool attacks.

Substitute Dirk Kuyt stung the palms of Sorensen from long-range before Jay Spearing blazed over the bar from a promising position.

Substitute Cameron Jerome wasted Stoke's best opening when he raced beyond the Liverpool defence but hesitated, allowing Martin Kelly time to get back and block his shot.

Rory Delap's long throws caused one or two nervy moments during six minutes of added-time but the Liverpool defence, marshalled by Jamie Carragher, held on.

Lineup, Bookings (6) & Substitutions (6)

Liverpool

  • 25 Reina Booked
  • 03 Jose Enrique
  • 23 Carragher
  • 34 Kelly Booked (Coates - 89' )
  • 37 Skrtel
  • 08 Gerrard
  • 11 Maxi (Kuyt - 61' )
  • 19 Downing
  • 20 Spearing
  • 07 Suarez (Henderson - 89' )
  • 09 Carroll

Substitutes

  • 32 Doni
  • 16 Coates
  • 38 Flanagan
  • 14 Henderson
  • 26 Adam
  • 33 Shelvey
  • 18 Kuyt

Stoke City

  • 29 Sorensen
  • 04 Huth
  • 17 Shawcross Booked
  • 28 Wilkinson Booked
  • 30 Shotton (Pennant - 61' )
  • 06 Whelan Booked
  • 12 Wilson Booked
  • 18 Whitehead (Delap - 74' )
  • 26 Etherington (Jerome - 72' )
  • 19 Walters
  • 25 Crouch

Substitutes

  • 27 Nash
  • 20 Upson
  • 16 Pennant
  • 24 Delap
  • 40 Palacios
  • 09 Jones
  • 33 Jerome
Ref: Friend
Att: 43,962

Match Stats

Shots

16 6

On target

8 4

Corners

2 5

Fouls

10 17

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +5:31 Full time

Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.

90:00 +4:42

Andy Wilkinson sends in a cross, Martin Skrtel makes a clearance.

90:00 +4:14

Sanchez Jose Enrique produces a cross.

90:00 +3:46

Stewart Downing decides to take a short corner.

90:00 +3:15

Corner taken short by Stewart Downing.

90:00 +3:05

The ball is crossed by Jordan Henderson, clearance by Ryan Shawcross.

90:00 +2:34

Free kick taken by Steven Gerrard.

90:00 +2:34 Booking

Booking The referee books Marc Wilson for unsporting behaviour.

90:00 +2:12

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Dirk Kuyt by Marc Wilson.

90:00 +1:42

Ryan Shawcross concedes a free kick for a foul on Andy Carroll. Stewart Downing takes the direct free kick.

90:00 +0:40

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Jermaine Pennant played to the near post, clearance by Steven Gerrard.

90:00 +0:30

Jermaine Pennant takes the outswinging corner, Dirk Kuyt manages to make a clearance.

88:10 Substitution

Substitution Luis Suarez leaves the field to be replaced by Jordan Henderson.

88:10 Substitution

Substitution Sebastian Coates is brought on as a substitute for Martin Kelly.

84:47

Peter Crouch fouled by Martin Skrtel, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Jermaine Pennant from right channel, Steven Gerrard makes a clearance.

79:47

Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Martin Kelly.

79:09

Shot from just outside the box by Jay Spearing goes over the bar.

77:10

A cross is delivered by Steven Gerrard, Headed effort from inside the area by Andy Carroll misses to the left of the goal.

76:22

Direct free kick taken by Martin Skrtel.

76:22 Booking

Booking Ryan Shawcross is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.

76:19

Ryan Shawcross concedes a free kick for a foul on Luis Suarez.

75:44

Free kick awarded for a foul by Luis Suarez on Ryan Shawcross. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free kick.

74:30

Jonathan Walters sends in a cross, clearance made by Martin Kelly.

73:07 Substitution

Substitution Rory Delap is brought on as a substitute for Dean Whitehead.

72:54

Effort on goal by Luis Suarez from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.

72:04

Foul by Ryan Shawcross on Sanchez Jose Enrique, free kick awarded. Jose Reina restarts play with the free kick.

71:19 Substitution

Substitution (Stoke) makes a substitution, with Cameron Jerome coming on for Matthew Etherington.

69:42

Dean Whitehead delivers the ball, Andy Carroll manages to make a clearance.

67:39

Steven Gerrard concedes a free kick for a foul on Jonathan Walters. Matthew Etherington takes the free kick.

67:09

Luis Suarez takes a shot. Save by Thomas Sorensen.

65:23

Centre by Andy Carroll, save made by Thomas Sorensen. A cross is delivered by Martin Kelly, Robert Huth makes a clearance.

63:56

Dirk Kuyt takes a shot. Save by Thomas Sorensen.

61:41

Steven Gerrard produces a cross, clearance by Ryan Shawcross.

60:09

Strike on goal comes in from Luis Suarez from the free kick.

60:09 Substitution

Substitution Dirk Kuyt replaces Rodriguez Maxi.

60:09 Substitution

Substitution Jermaine Pennant joins the action as a substitute, replacing Ryan Shotton.

60:09

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sanchez Jose Enrique by Ryan Shotton.

57:48

Peter Crouch gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Martin Kelly. Direct free kick taken by Jamie Carragher.

56:55

Steven Gerrard provided the assist for the goal.

56:55 Goal scored

Goal! - Stewart Downing - Liverpool 2 - 1 Stoke Stewart Downing finds the net with a goal from the edge of the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Liverpool 2-1 Stoke.

55:22

The offside flag is raised against Jonathan Walters. Jose Reina takes the indirect free kick.

53:59

Matthew Etherington delivers the ball.

53:32

Steven Gerrard delivers the ball, Robert Huth makes a clearance.

53:18

Sanchez Jose Enrique crosses the ball, Ryan Shawcross manages to make a clearance.

52:46

Unfair challenge on Jay Spearing by Jonathan Walters results in a free kick. Steven Gerrard takes the free kick.

51:32

Unfair challenge on Rodriguez Maxi by Andy Wilkinson results in a free kick. A cross is delivered by Stewart Downing, Close range header by Luis Suarez misses to the right of the target.

51:18

The ball is crossed by Sanchez Jose Enrique, Glenn Whelan manages to make a clearance.

50:30

The ball is sent over by Ryan Shotton, save by Jose Reina.

48:58

A cross is delivered by Ryan Shotton, clearance made by Jamie Carragher.

47:10

Steven Gerrard delivers the ball, clearance made by Robert Huth.

46:43

Free kick awarded for a foul by Robert Huth on Andy Carroll. Steven Gerrard takes the direct free kick.

45:30

Steven Gerrard takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Save by Thomas Sorensen.

45:01

The second half begins.

45:00 +2:06 Half time

Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.

45:00 +1:30

Andy Carroll delivers the ball. Handball by Luis Suarez. Thomas Sorensen takes the direct free kick.

45:00 +1:17

Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Huth.

45:00 +0:42

The ball is sent over by Sanchez Jose Enrique, save by Thomas Sorensen.

41:59

Ryan Shawcross challenges Luis Suarez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Luis Suarez. Steven Gerrard has shot on goal from just outside the area which goes wide of the right-hand upright.

41:12

Luis Suarez crosses the ball, Thomas Sorensen makes a save.

41:07

Stewart Downing crosses the ball, Robert Huth manages to make a clearance.

41:01

Stewart Downing sends in a cross, clearance made by Ryan Shawcross.

39:37

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jonathan Walters on Martin Skrtel. Free kick taken by Jose Reina.

36:39

Luis Suarez gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ryan Shawcross. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free kick.

34:02

Unfair challenge on Marc Wilson by Stewart Downing results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.

32:49

Stewart Downing produces a volleyed left-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide of the left-hand post.

32:10

Effort from deep inside the area by Jonathan Walters misses to the right of the goal.

30:22

Centre by Jay Spearing, Shot from deep inside the area by Andy Carroll goes over the bar.

29:35

The free kick is delivered right-footed by Steven Gerrard from left wing, Peter Crouch makes a clearance.

29:35 Booking

Booking Andy Wilkinson goes into the referee's book.

29:20

Luis Suarez fouled by Andy Wilkinson, the ref awards a free kick.

28:15

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

26:45 Booking

Booking Jose Reina booked.

25:58

The assist for the goal came from Matthew Etherington.

25:58 Goal scored

Goal! - Peter Crouch - Liverpool 1 - 1 Stoke Peter Crouch scores a headed goal from close in. Liverpool 1-1 Stoke.

25:35

Corner taken by Matthew Etherington from the right by-line to the near post,

25:10

Corner taken right-footed by Glenn Whelan from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Martin Kelly.

24:45

Glenn Whelan decides to take a short corner, Glenn Whelan takes a shot. Sanchez Jose Enrique gets a block in.

24:11

Andy Wilkinson delivers the ball, clearance by Jamie Carragher.

23:23

Free kick awarded for a foul by Andy Carroll on Glenn Whelan. Robert Huth takes the direct free kick.

22:23

The assist for the goal came from Rodriguez Maxi.

22:23 Goal scored

Goal! - Luis Suarez - Liverpool 1 - 0 Stoke A goal is scored by Luis Suarez from just outside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Liverpool 1-0 Stoke.

21:08

The ball is delivered by Martin Kelly.

20:29

Shot from long range by Ryan Shotton misses to the right of the goal.

19:42

Rodriguez Maxi takes a shot. Blocked by Andy Wilkinson.

18:56

Andy Wilkinson concedes a free kick for a foul on Rodriguez Maxi. Rodriguez Maxi restarts play with the free kick.

15:02

Jamie Carragher restarts play with the free kick.

15:02 Booking

Booking Glenn Whelan booked for unsporting behaviour.

14:53

Glenn Whelan challenges Jay Spearing unfairly and gives away a free kick.

13:55

Martin Kelly delivers the ball, blocked by Marc Wilson.

11:53

The ball is swung over by Ryan Shotton, Peter Crouch takes a shot. Jose Reina makes a save.

10:58

The ball is crossed by Stewart Downing, clearance by Robert Huth.

9:01

Andy Carroll challenges Marc Wilson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Robert Huth takes the free kick.

8:28

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sanchez Jose Enrique by Ryan Shotton. Direct free kick taken by Sanchez Jose Enrique.

7:29

Foul by Ryan Shotton on Steven Gerrard, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Jose Reina.

6:54

Free kick awarded for a foul by Luis Suarez on Robert Huth. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free kick.

4:38

Glenn Whelan crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance by Steven Gerrard.

4:38 Booking

Booking Martin Kelly booked for unsporting behaviour.

4:26

Free kick awarded for a foul by Martin Kelly on Matthew Etherington.

3:39

Sanchez Jose Enrique crosses the ball.

1:33

Andy Wilkinson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Luis Suarez. Steven Gerrard delivers the ball, Close range header by Rodriguez Maxi misses to the right of the goal.

0:00

The game gets underway.

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