Reading vs. Liverpool: Final score 0-0, Sublime McCarthy denies Liverpool

Warren Little

A heroic performance from Alex McCarthy kept the game scoreless as Liverpool and Reading both earned a point which will satisfy neither of them.

Liverpool and Reading's draw at the Madejski Stadium is likely to prove insufficient for either side as it sees them all but out of their race for Champions League football and Premier League survival respectively. Liverpool dominated, but could not find a way past the inspirational Alex McCarthy.

Liverpool looked fairly comfortable on the ball from the start, and it didn't take them too long to go very close to opening the scoring. Excellent interplay from Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho saw the latter's through-ball find the former, who opted to chip the ball over Alex McCarthy, but Chris Gunter was alert to recover and head the ball off the line to keep the scores level.

Reading appeared to be weathering the first half fairly well, but McCarthy was called into action to make a fine double save, first keeping Daniel Sturridge out after the England striker was played in by Suarez, and then pushing out Coutinho's follow-up. Jamie Carragher had a decent opportunity from the resultant corner, but headed wide as pressure began to mount on Reading's goal.

The hosts did little to help themselves, however, and Liverpool should have broken the deadlock after being presented a gift from Gunter, his errant backpass playing Sturridge straight into danger, who found Suarez in support, but McCarthy once again made the save before Steven Gerrard saw his effort on the rebound blocked.

McCarthy was having a stormer to keep Liverpool out, and he needed to as the chances came thick and fast for the visitors. Just before half-time he made the finest of his saves, somehow keeping out a ferocious close-range volley from Daniel Sturridge.

After half-time, there were no changes in personnel and no changes in the pattern of play as Liverpool resumed their assault on the Reading goal. They soon had the ball in the net through Coutinho after the Brazilian got on the end of Gerrard's cross, but he was correctly judged to be offside.

Aside from a moment of comic relief when Mark Clattenburg attempted to book Danny Guthrie only to find that he had left his cards in the dressing room, the game largely resumed as before, and Coutinho saw a 25-yard curler bounce off the post as Liverpool continued to be frustrated.

Yet remarkably, the final quarter of the game was to take a radically different turn, and Reading suddenly burst into life. After beginning to press and probe, Pepe Reina was called into action to keep Liverpool from suffering defeat, most notable when Jobi McAnuff's fierce effort over the crossbar.

Liverpool had a couple of further efforts themselves, but the excellent McCarthy once again kept things level, first denying Gerrard and then holding onto a savage shot from Suarez to give Liverpool an all-too-typically frustrating afternoon.

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