Mansfield handed a painful lesson in injustice by Suarez

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The Independent Online

Next to Mansfield Town's ground is a shop called Dreams which has a sign announcing its closure. It was a metaphor of sorts. They were wild, improbable dreams, and Mansfield lost gloriously and controversially.

The match ended much as the second half had begun, with the non-league side – knowing they were being eliminated by an injustice – repeatedly attacking the five-times champions of Europe, who had been utterly dominant before the interval. Mansfield's manager, Paul Cox, got married on Friday and whatever he said in his wedding speech could not have been more stirring than the words he found in the dressing room.

His players, who had been overrun by Daniel Sturridge and Jonjo Shelvey, emerged transformed. Brad Jones saved dramatically, Jamie Carragher cleared desperately. Then Liverpool broke away and broke Nottinghamshire hearts.

Stewart Downing put Luis Suarez through. Alan Marriott parried and so did the Uruguayan, only he used his hand to do it, smiling as he smashed the ball into an unguarded net. The outrage he caused when kissing his wrist was misleading. It was the way he celebrates every goal, kissing the name of his daughter on a tattoo.

However, everyone, from the Liverpool players, the two managers in front of Field Mill's abandoned fourth stand and the crowds jammed into the other three expected the whistle to blow. Nothing happened and cries of "cheat" began to fill the air.

It was a tie that deserved an end to match its beginning. When it was eight minutes old, Sturridge became the quickest Liverpool debutant to score since George V presented the FA Cup at the Empire Stadium.

Shelvey played a fabulous ball to Sturridge, who very confidently with his second touch as a Liverpool player, scored his first goal for them.

Liverpool were already two up when Matt Green scored, but it was still, he said: "something you dream about when you are a nipper". Colin Daniel crossed, Lee Beevers volleyed it back and Green did the rest.

For the final 11 minutes the scent of justice was in the air. Mansfield deserved more if only for the way they left 96 seats empty as a mark of respect to the Hillsborough dead.

Had Mansfield won, the betting firm, Blue Square, had promised to send Cox on a dream honeymoon. When he woke this morning he would have been happy with two weeks in Bridlington. They were that good.