Going into the second half with only a one goal lead, Liverpool allowed Reading to have a few chances on the break – with the best chance falling to substitute Garath McCleary. The game became a bit end-to-end, but neither side could score.
Jose Enrique’s Introduction
As the half continued, Sterling and Suso became less effective, and eventually Jose Enrique was brought on for Suso, with Sterling switching to the right.
This change reinvigorated Liverpool’s attacking play, with Enrique combining well with Johnson and Suarez to create two chances within two minutes for Liverpool.
In the first half, Liverpool targeted Reading’s right back by having Sterling look to run in behind and catch him out of position. After the Enrique substitution this changed, with Johnson instead running directly at Cummings, and Enrique receiving the ball in wide positions to cross or cut back for Suarez.
Both of the chances created in this way came as a result of Enrique underlapping in front of Johnson, meaning Cummings was left in two minds.
Here, as the ball came to Johnson, he ran directly at Cummings, with Enrique underlapping and moving wide. With a midfielder retreating to cover, Cummings tried to cut down the option of Johnson to come inside onto his right, but this allowed Enrique too much space. Johnson played a ball in front of Enrique, who cut the ball back to Suarez first time. Suarez had dropped off the retreating defenders, but as the ball bounced just before he shot he couldn’t keep it down.
Less than two minutes later an almost identical scenario occurred, with the same end result – a missed Suarez chance.
Leigertwood tried to pass to Kebe, but Johnson intercepted the pass and again ran towards Cummings. Identical to the previous situation, Enrique underlapped, leaving Cummings with an option to track the runner or prevent Johnson from coming inside.
He again allowed Enrique too much space and the ball was played to the left. Enrique took a touch and moved inside before passing to Suarez, who missed another chance.
With a one goal lead, Liverpool held strong and saw the game out.
It was another game where Liverpool didn’t convert their chances, but the one goal was enough to see off a Reading side which lacked imagination. Reading didn’t put enough pressure on Liverpool, who have historically become shaky in situations such as this, and their best chances were half chances from free kicks or direct counter attacks.
With their first home win of the campaign, Liverpool move to 11th on the table; Reading are now second from bottom on three points, with a game in hand.