Liverpool held in Stoke stalemate
LIVERPOOL: Liverpool warmed up for their Champions League semi-final second leg against Roma with a low-key goalless draw against Stoke at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp's side head to the Italian capital on Wednesday with a 5-2 advantage from the first leg and do so the back of a Premier League match they controlled for long periods without over-exerting themselves in search of a winner.
The result left Liverpool with a healthy cushion over fifth-placed Chelsea and in need of a maximum of
four points from their two remaining matches to guarantee qualification for Champions League.
Relegation-threatened Stoke remain in the drop zone with only two games left to avoid slipping into the Championship.
Klopp's programme notes featured a message he has stated with regularity in recent weeks; that Liverpool's focus on a top four finish in the Premier League should not be neglected despite their progress in European competition.
The Reds manager made five changes from the side which beat Roma, with Sadio Mane the most notable absentee from the starting line-up with a thigh problem.
However, despite Klopp's words, it was almost inevitable the intensity of that thrilling victory over the Italian side would not be replicated against Stoke.
The Potters have never won a top-flight match at Anfield - the longest winless away run in top-flight history - with their last league victory in Division Two in 1959.
There was never any danger of that statistic being altered as Liverpool dominated, yet only sporadically tested visiting goalkeeper Jack Butland.
This was also a game where Mohamed Salah endured, by his exceptionally high standards, a rare off day.