Live Commentary: Reading 0-0 Liverpool - as it happened

Live Commentary: Reading 0-0 Liverpool - as it happened
© Daniel Hambury / PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live coverage of this afternoon's crucial Premier League match between Reading and Liverpool.

Liverpool could not find a way past a stubborn Reading side this afternoon as the Royals held out for a 0-0 draw at the Madejski Stadium.

The Reds came close to taking the lead when Luis Suarez dinked the ball over the keeper, only for Chris Gunter to head clear off the line.

The second half saw a string of sensational saves from Alex McCarthy deny the Reds, while Suarez also clipped the post with a free kick.

Reading managed to hold out until the final whistle to win a point that draws them level with Queens Park Rangers.

You can read how an action-packed match unfolded with Sports Mole's live play-by-play coverage below.

2pmGood afternoon! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for what is really a must-win match for Reading as they take on Liverpool.

2.02pmThere is only one place to start really, and that is Reading's increasingly perilous position. They will need arguably the greatest escape in Premier League history if they are to retain their status as a top-flight team next season.

2.04pmReading currently sit bottom of the table, one point behind 19th-placed QPR, who also looked doomed to Championship football next season, and an imposing eight points from safety. With the likes of Wigan and Aston Villa starting to pick up a bit of form, Reading's chances look increasingly slim.

2.06pmThere isn't much cause for optimism at the club either. They have hit a woeful spell of form at the worst time possible, losing their last seven league games. What makes that form even more disappointing is that it has come off the back of run of just one loss in seven games, during which time they won four matches.

2.08pmIn the middle of the recent poor form Brian McDermott was sacked, a decision that personally I felt was a bad one. What the club needed at that point was continuity and stability, not wholesale change.

2.10pmStill, they replaced McDermott with another manager who was unlucky to get the sack earlier this season in Nigel Adkins. Adkins is undoubtedly a very good manager, but whether he can stem the tide remains to be seen. Certainly, he hasn't be able to do so so far in his reign. His two matches in charge have resulted in a 4-1 defeat to Arsenal and a 2-0 home defeat to former club Southampton.

2.12pmLiverpool, meanwhile, will not have given up on European qualification just yet. A top-four spot is now an unrealistic target for the Reds, but if they can find some consistency in their last six matches then there is no reason why they can't put pressure on those above them.

2.14pmPerhaps their main incentive for having a good end of the season will be to finish above Merseyside rivals Everton, however. The Toffess currently occupy sixth place, one position and three points above the Reds with a game in hand. It may be known as the 'friendly rivalry', but I can assure you that finishing the other half of the city means a lot to both sets of fans.

2.16pmTheir recent form has been mixed, which pretty sums up their whole season. They have lost just one of their last six league games, but that was a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Southampton. Such results deflate Liverpool's confidence, which was sky-high following big wins over the likes of Swansea and Wigan, as well as three points against Spurs.

2.18pmThey were disappointing in their last outing as well, failing to break West Ham down as the Hammers came to Anfield to grind out a 0-0 draw.

2.20pmTEAM NEWS: Right, it's time he had some team news! The headline from the Liverpool camp is that Daniel Sturridge returns to the starting lineup with Stewart Downing dropping to the bench. Reading, meanwhile, opt for Pavel Pogrebnyak up front. Full team news coming right up...

2.22pmREADING STARTING XI: McCarthy; Gunter, Morrison, Mariappa, Kelly; Karacan, Guthrie, McAnuff, Hunt, McCleary; Pogrebnyak

2.23pmREADING SUBS: Taylor, Harte, Pearce, Carrico, Leigertwood, Blackman, Le Fondre

2.24pmLIVERPOOL STARTING XI: Reina; Enrique, Johnson, Carragher, Agger; Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard; Sturridge, Suarez, Coutinho

2.24pmLIVERPOOL SUBS: Jones, Assaidi, Downing, Coates, Suso, Shelvey, Skrtel

2.26pmSo, what can we make of those starting lineups? Well, I'm not surprised that Adkins has gone for Pogrebnyak up front. The big striker has already shown how much of a handful he can be at times this season, and he will look to bully Carragher and Agger this afternoon. Hunt's inclusion also doesn't surprise me as it is an attacking one, and Reading must play matches on the front foot from now on. Every game is now a must-win one for them, and I expect both of them to start up front.

2.28pmAs far as Liverpool are concerned, their only change is an attacking one, which is understandable given their 0-0 draw against West Ham. Sturridge has made a good start to his Liverpool career and was slightly unlucky to miss out in the last couple of weeks, so he will be looking to regain his spot in the starting XI with a good performance.

2.30pmThe main dangerman for the visitors will be Luis Suarez, though. The tricky striker has not scored in three games, and this afternoon's match is exactly the type that would allow him to break that mini-drought. When on form he is amongst the world's best players but, even when he isn't on form, he will never stop running for the team and that is what makes him one of the toughest players to play against.

2.32pmElsewhere in the Liverpool side, Skrtel remains on the bench as Jamie Carragher tots another appearance on his ever-growing tally for the club. He has signalled his intention to retire at the end of this season, but he has shown that he can still do a job for the Reds.

2.34pmThe likes of Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho will be looking to provide Sturridge and Suarez in particular with plenty of chances, but the midfield duo are more than capable of weighing in with a few goals of their own should the opportunity arise.

2.36pmSo, Reading aren't enjoying the best of times at the moment, but what does the history of this fixture tells us? Well, it is more even than you might think. In the last five meetings between these two there have been two wins apiece and one draw.

2.38pmLiverpool won the most recent meeting between these two earlier this season, with Raheem Sterling scoring the only goal of the match as the Reds ran out 1-0 winners. The last time these two met in the Premier League at the Madejski, however, Reading won 3-1. Stephen Hunt, Kevin Doyle and James Harper were all on the scoresheet for the Royals that day, cancelling out Gerrard's goal for Liverpool.

2.40pmSo, that's a glimmer of hope for Reading today, but I'm afraid that there isn't much more where that came from. Their home record this season has been pretty poor, picking up 18 points from their 16 games at the Madejski - the fourth worst record in the league.

2.42pmThose points came courtesy of four wins, six draws and six losses and they have conceded 31 goals in the process, an average of almost two per game.

2.44pmIn contrast, Liverpool's away form has been relatively good this season. They have picked up 21 points from 16 matches on their travels, a tally that places them sixth in the away table.

2.46pmPerhaps the most worrying thing for Reading is Liverpool's ability to score goals away from home, however. Only Manchester United and Tottenham have scored more than Liverpool's 29, although they have only managed to win five of those 16 games, drawing six and losing the remaining five.

2.48pmDepending on results elsewhere this afternoon, a win for Liverpool could lift them above Everton into sixth - although the Toffees would have to lose at home to QPR for that to happen. Reading, meanwhile, could move off the foot of the table if they win and QPR don't, so there is plenty to play for for both sides.

2.50pmPREDICTION: Liverpool matches always seem to depend on which Liverpool side turns up. Their inconsistency makes them hard to predict, but they shouldn't even have to be at their best to beat Reading this afternoon. Teams threatened by relegation can sometimes pull off shock results, but I don't seee that happening this afternoon. Reading look to be going down to the Championship with a whimper, and I'll go for a 3-1 win to Liverpool.

2.52pmOne thing is for sure, if Reading are to pull off an unlikely comeback and survive this season, they pretty much need to start today. Another loss and a win for Villa, Sunderland or Wigan would really put them up against it.

2.54pmThere are, of course, other matches going on in the Premier League today, and I will keep you updated with any goals as and when they fly in from around the country.

2.56pmA quick reminder that there will be a minute's silence before today's game as a mark of respect for the 96 Liverpool fans who tragically lost their lives at Hillsborough in 1989. Everton will also have a silence before their match against QPR.

2.58pmA wreath is brought out with flowers bearing '96' on it by fans from both sides. Nice touch from Reading.

2.59pmRight, the attention turns to today's game and the players are lined up and just about ready to go.

0 minKICKOFF: Here we go! Liverpool get us underway in a massive match for Reading. They need a win, it's as simple as that.

2 minThe hosts have made a bright start, winning a corner early on, but Pogrebnyak is adjudged to have fouled Pepe Reina as they ball came into the box.

4 minCoutinho slips a ball into Suarez inside the box, but the Uruguayan is forced right to the line. He wins a corner off his marker, but Gerrard's ball into the box is cleared.

6 minReading have adopted an attacking formation when they have the ball, but as soon as Liverpool get it they face the proposition of two banks of four to get through. That will be tough for the wingers to keep that up all day.

7 minSturridge tries to slip a defence-splitting pass in towards Suarez, but it is slightly over-hit. That was a good idea from Sturridge, though, and Suarez is quick to appreciate it.

9 minLiverpool have started this match with a very attacking formation themselves. Jose Enrique is forcing the Reading wingers deep into their own half as he is spending most of his time playing on the left wing, leaving the defensive duties to Carragher and Agger.

11 minGuthrie hoists a very high ball into the box and Reina looks set to collect it, but Hunt is not one to give up on what may seem like a lost cause. He challenges Reina in the air and the Liverpool keeper fumbles before collecting at the second attempt.

13 minHunt looks fired up for this one. He dives into a challenge on Jose Enrique from behind and the linesman rightly flags for a foul. Hunt gets a talking to from Clattenburg.

15 minOFF THE LINE! Oh Liverpool come so close to breaking the deadlock, and what a lovely goal it would have been. A slick passing move sees Coutinho slip it in to Sturridge, who dummies it to alow Suarez in. The striker dinks it over the onrushing keeper and begins his celebrations, but Gunter is back to head it off the line!

16 minLiverpool are starting to put the pressure on Reading now. Another nice move sees Gerrard give Suarez the ball and he clips a cross in towards Coutinho. The Brazilian isn't the most dominant in the air, and McCarthy recognises that and comes to punch it clear.

18 minGerrard and Johnson link up very nicely down the right to almost set up another chance. The Liverpool skipper backheels it to Johnson, who returns the favour by finding Gerrard on the edge of the box, but his cross is blocked by a defender.

19 minReading have their brightest attacking moment of the match so far as they knock the ball about on the edge of the Liverpool box, but to be honest they never really look in control of it and it eventually spins out for a goal kick.

21 minCHANCE! Gerrard reads a telegraphed pass and immediately sets Suarez free. He slips it into Sturrudge, but the England international takes one too many touches and his shot is saved. The balls falls back out to Coutinho on the edge of the box, but his low effort is tipped wide for a corner.

22 minCLOSE! With all of Liverpool's attacking prowess on the field it is almost Carragher who breaks the deadlock! The corner is whipped into the near post and the centre-back is left unmarked to flick a header goalwards. It loops towards the back post, but goes just over the bar.

24 minSHOT! It is all Liverpool at the moment. Their approach play is fluid and Reading really can't deal with it, but they just can't make it show on the scoresheet at the moment. Sturridge is the latest to go for goal, but it is an ambitious effort that flies well over.

26 minSturridge is released down the right again, but once more he can't make the most of possession. He tries to win a corner off his man, but the ball rebounds off the defender and back onto him and a goal kick is given.

28 minSuarez tries a first-time whipped pass to Johnson, who would be in acres of space down the right had it not been over-hit. Another case of the right idea but less than perfect execution from the Reds, who really should be ahead here.

30 minReading's current formation is allowing Gerrard a lot of space in midfield, and he is one of the last players you want to afford such space to. He is running the game at the moment and if it carries on like this then he will be key to any result for the Reds.

31 minLiverpool fall asleep from a quick free kick, which results in Karacan being teed up on the edge of the box. Henderson is out quickly to put in a heavy, but fair, challenge on the Reading midfielder.

33 minCHANCE! An awful pass from Gunter gifts Sturridge the ball deeps into the Reading half. He slips it into Suarez, who strikes a hard, low effort towards goal that McCarthy gets down well to save. The ball bounces out to the edge of the box and Gerrard screams at Sturridge to leave it, only to see his half volley blocked by Mariappa. Big chance.

35 minGuthrie now gifts the ball to Liverpool in his own third and Reading scramble to clear the danger. They are doing themselves no favours at the moment, and manager Nigel Adkins must be tearing his hair out.

37 minSturridge tries to slip the ball through to Coutinho when Suarez was perhaps the better option. The Uruguayan was open on the left, but Sturridge opted to try to thread the ball through to the more central Coutinho.

38 minSHOT! This isn't one for Coutinho to pop in the scrapbook. Sturridge is again the provider and his cut back eventually finds its way to Coutinho, but the Brazilian snatches at his effort and slices it high and wide.

41 minYELLOW CARD! McCleary races away for Reading and the crowd cheers him on as they look to catch Liverpool on the break. Lucas comes across to brings McCleary down cynically to stop the break, picking up a yellow for his troubles.

42 minSHOT! Sturridge is given plenty of space in the middle of the park and sees McCarthy off his line, so tries to float a highly ambitious effort over the keeper. He gets it all wrong, however, and another good attacking platform is wasted by Liverpool.

44 minCLOSE! Sturridge gets to the byline yet again, but this time he takes his time to pick a pass. He clips it to Henderson on the edge of the box, but his volley is headered wide by Morrison.

45 minCHANCES! How are Liverpool not ahead here?! Suarez's corner finds Agger at the back post and he heads it down into a dangerous area. Sturridge is waiting and he hammers the ball goalwards from about six yards out, only for McCarthy to make a brilliant save. From the resulting corner Skrtel gets a header in, but it drifts wide of the post.

45+1 minHALF TIME: Reading 0-0 Liverpool

3.48pmClattenburg brings an end to an action-packed half that has sen Liverpool dominate but fail to break the deadlock. It is an all-too familiar story for the Reds, who were also held to a 0-0 draw by West Ham last week.

3.50pmSuarez has come closest to breaking the deadlock, doing so with a lovely dinked shot that was cleared off the line by Gunter. That was the only time that McCarthy was beaten in that half, however, and he has kept his side in the match so far. His save from Sturridge late on in the half was a great stop from close range, although the Liverpool man really should have scored.

3.52pmThe front three of Liverpool have all been denied by McCarthy, who is having a great game. No matter how well he is playing, though, I would be very surprised if the second half also ended goalless. Most of that half seemed to be waiting for the Reds to open to scoring, and surely they can't be denied for another 45 minutes.

3.54pmUPDATE: Amazingly, there has only been one goal in the Premier League so far today. That single goal also provides bad news for Liverpool, although Reading may be bouyed by the news that Everton lead QPR 1-0 courtesy of a Darron Gibson strike.

3.56pmLiverpool's dominance of that half is reflected in the match stats. They have had 12 shots on goal compared to Reading's one, as well as enjoying 59% possession.

3.58pmSp, what will both manager's be saying to their sides during the break? Well, Adkins has a tough choice to make. His side could really do with a win today but, if they go all out attack then, the way this match has been going, they will be cut apart by Liverpool. His best option may be to soak up the pressure and hit Liverpool on the break.

4pmRodgers, meanwhile, will be wanting more of the same from his side, just with more of a cutting egde up front. They have dominated the ball and only an inspired performance by McCarthy is keeping the scores level so far. He will still be fully confident of coming away from this one with three points.

45 minKICKOFF: Reading get us back underway at the Madejski. A huge 45 minutes in both sides' seasons awaits.

46 minReading again start the half looking to take the game to Liverpool. They made a bright start to the first half as well, so will need to ensure that the next 45 minutes doesn't follow the same pattern as the last.

48 minDISALLOWED GOAL! Liverpool think that they have finally broken the deadlock, but their celebrations are cut short by the linesman's flag. A quick break sees Sturridge give the ball to Gerrard, who whips it across goal where Coutinho is waiting to flick it in. The linesman says that the Brazilian was offside, however, and the replay proves him right.

50 minYELLOW CARD! Danny Guthrie puts a cynical foul in on Sturridge and is given a yellow soon as the ref can find them! Clattenburg reaches into his pocket but realises that he has left his cards in the dressing room, so he races over to the fourth official to pick them up before finally showing Guthrie the yellow.

52 minHunt just doesn't give any defender a moment of respite. This time he charges down Skrtel's clearance which results in Carragher having to clear the ball out for an attacking throw in. He may not be the most clincical, but you can't fault Hunt's work ethic.

54 minJohnson clears the ball and it turns out to be a fine pass towards Coutinho. Morrison just gets to the ball first, but his pass back to McCarthy is short and the Brazilian blocks the keeper's clearance. Liverpool try to work space to shoot, but Reading get back in numbers and the danger eventually passes.

56 minAnother nice move by Liverpool sees Sturridge get the ball down the right side of the box. He tries to steer a cross into the near post with the outside of his boot, but it is cleared before Henderson can get to it.

57 minREADING SUB: Adkins will make the first change of the match as Daniel Carrico comes on for Jem Karacan.

58 minLIVERPOOL SUB: Brendan Rodgers responds with a change of his own, and it is Henderson who will make way to be replaced by Stewart Downing.

60 minUPDATE: Goals are starting to fly in around the country, if not here. Everton now lead QPR 2-0 thanks to a Victor Anichebe strike and Norwich have taken a shock lead against Arsenal through Michael Turner. Aston Villa are also 1-0 up against Fulham courtesy of a Charles N'Zogbia strike, while Southampton have just taken the lead against West Ham.

62 minJohnson picks the ball up in the middle of the park and beats two men before passing it to Coutinho. The Brazilian tries to slither in between two defenders, but there was never space to do so and he is crowded out.

63 minPENALTY SHOUT! Reading want a penalty and I have definitely seen them given! McAnuff advances into the box and entice a challenge from Downing, who leaves his leg hanging out for the winger to go over, There wasn't much contact, if any, but that could have easily been given.

65 minCLOSE! Coutinho is so close to breaking the deadlock with a fizzing first-time effort that flies a yard or so wide. Brilliant effort and he was unlucky that it went the wrong side of the post.

66 minCHANCE! That is by far Reading's best chance of the match and they are only denied the opener by a fantastic save from Reina. Pogrebnyak drills a low cross into the box and Hunt slides in to push it goalwards from about five yards out, but Reina dives across to make a fabulous reflex save.

67 minCHANCE! Reading are starting to ask a few questions now. A high ball comes into the box and Reina comes to collect but gets nowhere near it. It is headed clear only as far as Guthrie on the edge of the box, but his powerful strike is well blocked.

69 minLiverpool have just lost their grip on this one in the last five minutes or so as Reading start to create more going forward. The crowd is now getting behind their team and there is a sense of optimism in the air.

71 minThe ball is slipped into Suarez but he can't get there before the defender. The ball falls to Sturridge, who drills it across the box towards Coutinho, who goes for goal first time. It was a very tough chance and Coutinho couldn't quite get his foot round it, sending it well wide.

73 minREADING SUB: A straight swap up front for Reading as Pogrebnyak is replaced by Blackman. That shows that Adkins isn't thinking of going defensive and playing for the draw here. Interesting that Le Fondre wasn't chosen to come on, though.

74 minThe ball is worked to Gerrard on the edge of the box and he tries to guide a curling effort into the bottom corner, but his strike is well blocked by Morrison.

76 minCHANCE! Big chance for Reading to nick the opener. The ball falls to McAnuff in the box but he chooses not to go for goal first time, which he perhaps should do. He does eventually find space to shoot, though, and his effort is deflected and then tipped over by Reina.

77 minOFF THE POST! Suarez comes inches away from breaking the deadlock in spectacular fashion! He has a free kick from about 30 yards out and steers it towards the bottom corner. McCarthy does not have it covered, so is grateful to see it clip the outside of the post on its way behind.

79 minREADING SUB: Adam Le Fondre does come on this time. He replaces Noel Hunt - can he perform late heroics again and save his side here? If he scores it will be a Premier League record for most goals as a sub in one season.

81 minSAVE! Gerrard feeds the ball to Suarez, who wriggles his way between two defenders in the way only he can, but his subsequent shot takes a deflection on the way through that makes it easy for McCarthy.

83 minCLOSE! Blackman is dispossessed and Gerrard immediately sends a superb pass to Sturridge. The England man pulls it back to Downing on the edge of the box and the winger dummies his shot before drilling it just wide of the near post with McCarthy stranded.

84 minSAVE! McCarthy makes another magnificent save to deny Liverpool. Johnson pulls the ball back to Gerrard on the edge of the box and the Liverpool skipper curls an effort that looks destined for the top corner until the keeper sticks a hand out to push it behind.

86 minSAVE! Oh my word these saves just keep on getting better! A long ball finds Sturridge onside and he lays it off to Suarez, who smashes a volley goalwards from about seven yards out. I don't know how McCarthy has saved it, but he has and, even more impressively, he has held it. Phenomenal save.

86 minSAVE! This is a more routine stop for McCarthy but it still has to be made. Downing does everything right in the build up, embarking on a mazy run before his shot was straight at the keeper.

88 minYELLOW CARD! Jose Enrique enters the referee's notebook for what I think was kicking the ball away. Frustration shown from the Spaniard there.

89 minCHANCE! Suarez cleverly dummies the ball, allowing Sturridge in. The striker is under pressure from a defender and can't keep his volleyed effort down as it flies just over the bar. How this is still 0-0 I will never know.

90 minWe will have four minutes of added time. Can anyone find what would surely now be the winner?

90+1 minSAVE! Suarez spins away from Kelly and only has McCarthy to beat, but that is no easy task today. He smashes an effort towards the top corner, but the Reading keeper produces another fine save to push it away. What an end to this game!

90+3 minSAVE! There is just no way past McCarthy this afternoon! Gerrard is the latest to be thwarted by the keeper, who manages to adjust his body to keep out the Liverpool captain's swirling long range effort.

90+4 minFULL TIME: Reading 0-0 Liverpool

4.53pmWell I still can't believe that this one has finished goalless. Liverpool will be kicking themselves as they had more than enough chances to win the match, even allowing for McCarthy's outstanding performance in goal. Reading had a couple of chances of their own and we should remember that Reina made a great save himself, but it was all about McCarthy today.

4.56pmReading will have mixed emotions at the end of this match, though. The way it went, they have no right to be standing with a point at the end of it so they should be delighted at the draw. However, one point my not be enough for them. They needed a win really, and now face a really tough end to the season if they want to push for survival.

4.58pmLiverpool, meanwhile, will have to chalk it down to having 'one of those days'. They couldn't have done much more to win the game. Whenever they did beat McCarthy, other aspects came to Reading's rescue, such as Gunter's clearance off the line and Luis Suarez hitting the post.

5pmRight, that's it from me today. Thank you for joining Sports Mole for what was one of the most entertaining 0-0 draws I have seen in a long time. Be sure to stick around for the match analysis, which will be on site within half an hour, although there are no prizes for guessing who the man of the match will be. Goodbye!

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers during the match against Zenit St Petersburg on February 21, 2013
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