Suarez is centre of attention in goalless draw
Wigan Athletic 0 Liverpool 0
Wednesday 21 December 2011
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was the centre of attention after receiving his eight-match ban but the Uruguay international cut a frustrated figure as his side were held to a goalless draw at Wigan.
Perhaps understandably the Reds' top scorer, playing just 24 hours after learning of the lengthy suspension handed down by the Football Association, faded as the game wore on.
Team-mate Charlie Adam had the chance to take some of the focus off his team-mate but missed a penalty early in the second half as Liverpool's disappointing run against the Latics continued.
They have taken three points from last four matches against them and have not won at Wigan since September 2007.
For the Latics is was a second successive home draw against one of the 'big' teams - having held Chelsea on Saturday, and another point towards their survival battle.
Suarez remains free to play while the club decide whether to appeal against the punishment for misconduct for using insulting words to Patrice Evra, which included a reference to the Manchester United defender's colour.
Prior to the match the Liverpool squad had issued a joint statement fully supporting their team-mate in which they said: "We have lived, trained and played with Luis for almost 12 months and we don't recognise the way he has been portrayed.
"We will continue to support Luis through this difficult period."
As if to press home their message, every player, including the striker himself, wore white T-shirts with the image of a celebrating Suarez in red on the front and the player's name and number seven on the back.
But whatever the club's decision, the stain on the player's character is unlikely to be removed as the Wigan fans, hardly the most aggressive in the Premier League, targeted him with barbed chants and booed him throughout.
If Suarez was expecting any sympathy from his opponents he did not get it and fellow South American Antolin Alcaraz's challenge inside the second minute left the striker clutching the back of his head.
The 24-year-old was involved in many of Liverpool's early attacking as, after Adam drilled a free-kick into the wall, Suarez, Maxi Rodriguez and Stewart Downing combined to set up Jordan Henderson but his shot was parried behind by Ali Al Habsi.
Adam had another goalbound free-kick headed away by David Jones while Rodriguez and Henderson both fired over ambitious volleys from the edge of the area.
Dirk Kuyt had the best chance from Downing's cut-back but Al Habsi did enough to turn aside the shot.
But for all their dominance the visitors began to lose a grip on the game and could well have gone into half-time behind had referee Michael Oliver deemed Martin Skrtel's challenge inside the area on Victor Moses - in which there appeared to be contact - a foul.
Maynor Figueroa and Mohamed Diame both tried their luck from distance before Moses ran 60 yards into the heart of the Reds' defence before forcing Jose Reina to punch clear.
Only Daniel Agger's last-ditch tackle denied Conor Sammon after James McCarthy had robbed Rodriguez 15 yards outside the penalty area as Wigan finished the first half strongly.
Soon after the restart Al Habsi tipped over a Suarez free-kick but it was the hands of Wigan captain Gary Caldwell which made a more decisive intervention in the 50th minute.
Suarez's attempted overhead kick hit the centre-back on his left arm and Oliver pointed to the spot but Adam's penalty was saved by Al Habsi.
Kuyt then volleyed over Adam's chipped free-kick from close range before the Dutchman and Rodriguez were replaced by Craig Bellamy and Jonjo Shelvey for the final 20 minutes while Hugo Rodallega, Wigan's scorer in two of their last three meetings with Liverpool, came on for Sammon.
The Colombia international almost came up trumps with a far-post header from Moses' cross which was deflected behind by Glen Johnson.
Moses then stabbed wide from the resulting corner as Liverpool looked like crumbling before Suarez was substituted for Andy Carroll three minutes from time to a chorus of boos.
Greater tests on and off the field await the Uruguayan but for Wigan it was another deserved point.
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