Liverpool bounced back from successive defeats and kicked off 2014 with a home victory as efforts by Daniel Agger and Luis Suarez guided the Reds to a 2-0 win against Hull City on Wednesday.
Vice captain Agger punctuated a scrappy opening period with a well-placed header eight minutes before halftime, and Suarez needed just four minutes of the second half to curl in another memorable set piece.
The single goal in each half proved enough for Brendan Rodgers‘ men to seal victory and claim three points, lifting the Reds back into the Barclays Premier League top four.
Rodgers had selected defender Aly Cissokho and forward Iago Aspas for his starting lineup, in place of injured duo Joe Allen and Mamadou Sakho, while skipper Steven Gerrard was fit enough to be named among the substitutes.
A piercing breeze whistled around the stadium, and there was little encouragement provided to warm up those in attendance during the opening 10 minutes as each side searched for a rhythm.
It was the visitors who initially threatened to improve the spectacle 12 minutes in when Yannick Sagbo found a path around stand-in captain Agger and lashed a presentable volley high and over Simon Mignolet‘s crossbar from the edge of the area.
On the quarter-hour mark, Suarez created room on the right corner of the Hull box with fleet-footed trickery and struck a delicate lob back across goal. The effort was no concern for Allan McGregor, though.
The Uruguayan seemed to have reached 20 Premier League goals for the season at 19 minutes when he coolly directed a header into the back of the net from Philippe Coutinho‘s free kick. But the linesman’s flag was raised for offsides.
Coutinho rifled a drive into the Anfield Road end before Raheem Sterling was denied from close range by McGregor. Suarez had expertly released his younger colleague with an angled header, but the England international’s side-footer was blocked.
The Reds forced the ball past McGregor for a second time in the 37th minute and, on this occasion, it counted. Agger leaped in the center of the area to meet Coutinho’s corner and power a header down and over the goal line for the opener.
Jordan Henderson had an inviting opportunity to double the lead before the break when Aspas diverted a Coutinho pass into No. 14’s path, but his hard punt carried too wide to the left.
There was time for a final chance for Coutinho before the referee blew the halftime whistle. The Brazilian playmaker latched onto a sublime Henderson assist and strode around his marker but produced a similar strike to his teammate’s previous shot.
Photo via Twitter/@LFCUSA