Luis Suarez and Martin Skrtel went closest for the Reds on a day when the home side fought tooth and nail against psychical opposition and dominated for long spells.
The Uruguayan hit the post with 10 minutes to go after previously slicing wide from inside the area, while Skrtel shot inches wide of Asmir Begovic‘s far post with minutes remaining and Stoke held firm for a point.
An early scare after minutes of the first-half threatened to hand Stoke its first Anfield goal since 1983.
Nuri Sahin under-hit an attempted pass to Martin Skrtel after Pepe Reina caught him unawares with a short goal-kick. Former Reds midfielder Charlie Adam seized possession, but after a frenzied period of last-ditch defending, the ball was hooked to safety.
At the Anfield Road End, Suarez danced his way along the touchline in trademark, zigzagging fashion before poking the ball back for Sahin, but the Turkey international’s side-footed effort crashed into a Stoke defender.
Glenn Whelan whipped an inviting free-kick across the blindside of a retreating Reds defence but Skrtel was strong and alert to scramble the ball clear, as Peter Crouch stood poised to turn it home at the far post.
Stoke was the physical presence that everyone expected them to be; for better and for worse. The wall of claret and blue it formed ahead of the ball was mostly impenetrable, and the Reds were unable to settle into a rhythm on the ball.
When the Reds did look to retain possession, however, tough challenges came raining down upon them. First Robert Huth clattered Suarez off the ball, and then Michael Kightly received a yellow card for a late, lunging tackle.
Steven Gerrard swerved a shot towards Begovic’s left but the ‘keeper flung himself low to parry. Trickery from Suso on the edge of the box saw him dink the ball over the Stoke back-four, and Daniel Agger was inches away from turning the ball home.
Raheem Sterling, consumed in dogfight for possession with his marker Geoff Cameron, managed to wriggle free of the tall Stoke fullback and feed Suarez, who found Gerrard, but the skipper dragged wide.
After the interval, the Reds came out full of zest and penetration. Gerrard, Suarez and the excellent Suso intertwined with passes and flicks, as Sahin dropped deep sporadically, and Allen lurked patiently to pick up the pieces.
In the 51st minute, Gerrard split the Stoke defence wide open. Head raised, the skipper watched Glen Johnson stampede forward before clipping a perfectly weighted pass into his path. The fullback blazed over the crossbar.
Suarez let the ball roll across his body before embarking on a mazy run through the heart of the Stoke defence. But with a trail of floored defenders in his wake and the whole of Anfield on its feet, poised to explode in celebration, the Uruguayan sliced the ball wide of the Kop net.
Agger, who had carried the ball with real purpose from the back throughout the game, sprinted to the edge of the Stoke penalty area from where he crossed into the center for Sahin to attack. The ball evaded him but broke for Sterling, who smashed it against Begovic’s near post.
Joe Cole, on as a second-half substitute whipped the ball into the box for Skrtel, but he could only fire wide and the Reds were forced to settle for a draw.
Liverpoolfc.com journalists’ man of the match: Daniel Agger.
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