Suarez and Sturridge on target as Liverpool go top
Gerrard also on the mark in comfortable victory over Palace
Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool shoots past Stuart O’Keefe of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match at Anfield. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Liverpool’s return to the top of the Premier League was confirmed by an impressive first-half performance which saw Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge steal the show again in a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Anfield.
The pair had dispelled suggestions they were not entirely compatible as a front two with all the goals in the 3-1 win at Sunderland last week.
This was more of the same as they scored the Reds’ first two, which were followed by a Steven Gerrard penalty for his 99th Premier League goal, in another 3-1 success.
It took the strike duo’s tally when both on the pitch at the same time to 16 goals, averaging a goal less than every 70 minutes.
Individually their statistics are formidable, together they are devastating.
Suarez has 19 goals in his last 22 games, while Sturridge has 19 in 24 games since joining in January, including eight in nine matches this season.
Sturridge’s form would seem to make him a certain starter for England’s important World Cup qualifying double-header next week – injury permitting.
He missed the last two internationals a month ago, coincidentally when Liverpool last went to the top of the table, with a thigh injury and minor concerns were raised about his fitness when he fell awkwardly in the first half, even though he managed to play 87 minutes.
Substitute Dwight Gayle’s 77th-minute consolation had no impact on this one.
Fulham striker Darren Bent repaid Martin Jol’s faith with a late goal against Stoke as the vultures prepared to swoop on the under-fire Fulham manager.
Brought in by the Dutchman after being marginalised at Aston Villa, the loanee came off the bench to secure a 1-0 win and potentially the Dutchman’s position at the helm.
It was not a comfortable victory for the Whites, far from it, but it was their first since the opening day of the season and first at Craven Cottage since April 1st.
It had looked like their miserable run would continue as Stoke dominated the first half of Mark Hughes’s first return to the ground since leaving citing a lack of ambition in the summer of 2011.
City were denied a clear-cut penalty when Philippe Senderos took down Stephen Ireland and Fernando Amorebieta was fortunate not to concede a spot-kick soon after for a challenge on Jonathan Walters, which was adjudged to be outside the box.
Stoke defender Robert Huth also had a header cleared off the line by Sascha Riether in a first half they controlled, although Fulham were denied a penalty when Bryan Ruiz was felled by Marc Wilson in stoppage time.
The second half swung from end to end, epitomised by Riether again clearing off the line before racing up the pitch to test Potters goalkeeper Asmir Begovic in the last 10 minutes.