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ACTION APLENTY: Sotiris Kyrgiakos (third from right) puts Liverpool in front against Stoke City in the Premier League match on Saturday.
ACTION APLENTY: Sotiris Kyrgiakos (third from right) puts Liverpool in front against Stoke City in the Premier League match on Saturday.

LONDON: Robert Huth deprived Rafael Benitez of a vital victory as Stoke claimed a dramatic late equaliser against Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium to force a 1-1 draw.

Huth pounced from close range to ensure a frustrating end to a tortuous week for Benitez with Stoke’s first-ever Premier League goal against Liverpool.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos had appeared set to ease the pressure on the Liverpool manager with his first goal for the club. But a sustained period of late pressure from Stoke was rewarded right at the death.

Alberto Aquilani and new signing Maxi Rodriguez started on the bench while Phillip Degen, Lucas Leiva and Fabio Aurelio all started on a day when Benitez was without five first-team players: Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun, Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson.

A series of long throw-ins from Rory Delap typically unnerved the Liverpool defence early on in a frantic start.

Chances were at a minimum after such a cagey opening but Benitez was fidgeting with fury midway through the half when Lucas was clearly hacked down in the penalty area by Danny Higginbotham.

Not only did referee Lee Mason refuse to award a penalty but he booked the Brazilian for diving .

Breaking through

Liverpool stunned the noisy home crowd into silence in the 58th minute.

Aurelio’s free kick was fumbled by Thomas Sorensen and Kyrgiakos bundled the ball over the line despite the frantic attempts of Higginbotham to hack clear.

The result: Stoke City 1 (Robert Huth 90) drew with Liverpool 1 (Sotiris Kyrgiakos 58). — Agencies

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