Reading 0 Liverpool 0 match report: 'World class' Alex McCarthy keeps Liverpool at bay


the madejski stadium

Reading, after seven straight league losses, were always going to need something special to hold off Liverpool yesterday and they found it in goalkeeper Alex McCarthy. Making his first league start for six months, McCarthy delivered one of the performances of the season, making at least ten saves – half of them excellent – to repel Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and the rest.

It will probably not keep Reading in the Premier League. They are now seven points adrift with five games left. They needed to win this game and they never looked like they even believed it was possible, but it did at least bring some pride back to a side whose last few months have not exactly been a resounding triumph.

"It was a fantastic goalkeeping display, after being out for a while," said Royals' manager Nigel Adkins. "Alex pulled off some world class saves today. He is going to get the headlines but I am really pleased with all of the players."

This was not Liverpool's finest performance of the season and, had Suarez, Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho played to their very best, they would have scored. But they still created enough chances to, in Brendan Rodgers' accurate judgement, "win two or three games," and it was only through McCarthy's brilliance that they did not.

"I don't think our players could have done any more," said Rodgers. "You have some days like that, where the goalkeeper makes two or three good saves but we had 14 shots on target today."

Rodgers knows McCarthy from his time at Reading and predicted he would have a great career. "He was always a talent, but he's got all the qualities to be a top, top goalkeeper. He's 6ft 5in, with good feet, he's calm and assured."

The first save though, before the master-class began, was from Chris Gunter, who headed off the line when Suarez chipped Coutinho's pass beyond McCarthy. That was the one the goalkeeper missed. His first real contribution was a double save, from Sturridge from close range and then from Coutinho from distance.

When Gunter gave the ball away Sturridge played in Suarez, but McCarthy blocked his shot before Adrian Mariappa got in the way of Gerrard's follow-up. In the final minutes of the half a Suarez corner fell to Sturridge, who forced McCarthy into a reaction save, and Daniel Agger headed the subsequent corner over.

The first half, in truth, was not compelling, with one of the few notable exchanges being between the home and away fans regarding how best to mark the passing of Baroness Thatcher. Both managers claimed not to have heard anything.

Four minutes into the second half Coutinho had a goal disallowed for offside but, from then on, McCarthy was unbeatable. Coutinho shot wide from Sturridge's pull-back, and the introduction of Stewart Downing added more impetus.

Reading did have a brief flurry with 20 minutes left, with Noel Hunt failing to turn Pavel Pogrebnyak's cross beyond Pepe Reina, but the rest of the action was all at the opposite end.

McCarthy blocked from Suarez again, with eight minutes left, before making a remarkable reflex save from Gerrard soon after. Sturridge then headed the ball down to Suarez, whose ferocious 10-yard volley was repelled by the inspired keeper. Downing cut inside and, aiming for the corner, dragged his shot wide.

Even in added time there were more saves, even after Sturridge volleyed over. Suarez's curler with the outside of his right boot was flying towards the top corner, but McCarthy reached it, and then Gerrard's characteristic last-kick blast he dived down to block.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform