Suarez hands it to Liverpool
Soccer:Liverpool new-boy Daniel Sturridge made an immediate impact to leave Mansfield manager Paul Cox mulling over his honeymoon options after failing to pull off an FA Cup giant-killing.Sturridge, playing his first game since moving from Chelsea a few days ago, wasted no time in getting off the mark and helping the Reds into the fourth round — and another tricky trip to Oldham — at the expense of their non-league opponents.
The Blue Square Bet Conference side had their moments, notably at the start of the second half, before Luis Suarez further crushed their hopes in the 59th minute — and not without controversy. If a contentious handball had been spotted then perhaps Matt Green’s 79th-minute strike might have forced a lucrative replay at Anfield, but it was not to be.
Instead for Cox, who turned 41 today and who married on Friday, his new wife Natasha will have to start flicking through the holiday brochures after failing to cash in on a promise from Blue Square that they would have paid for his honeymoon if the Stags had won.
Unfortunately, they made the worst possible start as it took just eight minutes for Liverpool, and Sturridge in particular, to make their mark. The Stags defence was scythed open with ease by a delightful through ball from Jonjo Shelvey, and with Sturridge showing a turn of speed in racing on to the pass, he slotted comfortably beyond Alan Marriott from 12 yards.
The goal allowed the visitors to take control, with Marriott firmly behind a raking low drive from just outside the area from Joe Allen five minutes later that could have deceived as it flashed through a crowded penalty area.
Within 90 seconds it should have been 2-0, and effectively game over, as the Shelvey-Sturridge partnership combined again, with the latter clean through on to another incisive defence-splitting pass.
On this occasion, however, Sturridge dithered perhaps a fraction too long and shimmied once too often as his eventual crack at goal was beaten away by Marriott at close range.
At that stage, with just 15 minutes elapsed, that would likely have knocked the stuffing out of the Stags, however they grew in confidence as the half wore on even if Liverpool continued to dominate.
They were indebted to a superb sliding tackle from Lindon Meikle in thwarting Suso on the edge of the six-yard box, while John Thompson bravely threw his body in the way of a drive from Stewart Downing as he raced into the area.
But with the realisation they were in the game and there was no walkover on the cards, and with the crowd becoming ever more vocal, they finally conjured their first chance just after the half hour.