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Liverpool 1 QPR 0: Super Luis Suarez silences critics to see Reds home against Rangers

Liverpool 1 QPR 0: Super Suarez silences critics to see Reds home against Rangers

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez showed just why he is prized and feared in equal amounts with an impressive all-round performance as he guided the Reds to a home victory over QPR.

The Uruguay international, who has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons during a two-month lean spell in front of goal, was at his threatening best as he scored his first goal in the Barclays Premier League since October 1.

Back in business: Luis Suarez leaps to score for Liverpool

Back in business: Luis Suarez leaps to score for Liverpool

His header ended a run of four successive draws at Anfield and helped repair some of the damage done to his reputation in recent weeks.

MATCH FACTS

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Maxi (Bellamy 78), Adam, Henderson, Downing (Shelvey 86), Suarez, Kuyt. Subs not used: Doni, Carroll, Coates, Carragher, Kelly.

Yellow cards: Agger, Bellamy

Scorer: Suarez 47

QPR:Cerny, Young, Gabbidon, Ferdinand (Orr 50), Traore, Mackie (Hill 78), Barton, Faurlin, Wright-Phillips, Smith (Campbell 66), Bothroyd. Subs not used: Putnins, Derry, Buzsaky, Connolly.

Referee: Lee Mason.

Attendance: 45,016

Suarez had been the main topic of conversation pre-match – having received his second Football Association misconduct charge of the season earlier in week for allegedly making an offensive gesture to Fulham fans – but it was another instrumental display on the field which was the talking point afterwards.

The 24-year-old has found himself targeted by opposition players and fans alike who believe the South American goes to ground far too easily.

Early signs at Anfield were that QPR were not going to dish out the sort of harsh treatment that had prompted Reds manager Kenny Dalglish to produce video clips in a determined defence of his striker at his press conference on Thursday.

Suarez, who is also facing a racism-related charge dating back to mid-October, should have taken advantage in the 10th minute from Stewart Downing”s right-wing cross but he headed straight at Radek Cerny from 10 yards.

It set the tone for the rest of the half as he then somehow squeezed a shot from a narrow angle between the goalkeeper and his left-hand post which eventually went out for a throw before skewing wide with the outside of his right foot when it looked easier to go with his left.

Taking the plaudits: Luis Suarez celebrates with Charlie Adam (right) and Maxi Rodriguez

Taking the plaudits: Luis Suarez celebrates with Charlie Adam (right) and Maxi Rodriguez

Having dominated at home against the other promoted teams Norwich and Swansea – which both finished in draws after missing a number of chances – a familiar pattern was developing for Liverpool.

In the 31st minute Dirk Kuyt put Maxi Rodriguez through in the inside-left channel and his low shot across Cerny was destined for the far corner of the net until the goalkeeper fingertipped it behind.

Up for it: Charlie Adam leaps to control for Liverpool

Up for it: Charlie Adam leaps to control for Liverpool

A driving run from Downing set up another Suarez chance but his attempted close-range lob was clawed away by Cerny and the Uruguay international blazed over the rebound.

It took Liverpool just two minutes to put the frustrations of the first half behind them when they returned after the interval.

Making his point: QPR boss Neil Warnock shouts instructions, flanked by Loverpool

Making his point: QPR boss Neil Warnock shouts instructions, flanked by Loverpool”s Kenny Dalglish

Charlie Adam”s left-wing corner was cleared back to him and his right-footed cross picked out the unmarked Suarez who easily headed past Cerny from five yards.

It was the Uruguayan”s first goal since getting two in the Carling Cup in late October and his first in the Premier League since the Merseyside derby on October 1.

The situation worsened for QPR when Anton Ferdinand sustained a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Bradley Orr.

Suarez continued to be Liverpool”s main threat in the final third and when he pulled the ball back for Rodriguez to shoot only a great one-handed save low to his left by Cerny prevented a second all-important goal.

Rodriguez should have scored after a brilliant interchange with Suarez in the area but he wastefully shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Liverpool continued to dominate but QPR were always capable of nicking a goal and they almost did when Danny Gabbidon, five yards out, diverted over Joey Barton”s inswinging free-kick.

No dice: Liverpool

No dice: Liverpool”s Andy Carroll looks on from the bench

Neil Warnock”s side enjoyed their best spell in the closing 20 minutes but the hosts still looked the most likely to score again as substitute Craig Bellamy curled a free-kick into the side-netting.

On form: Luis Suarez controls the ball under threat from QPR

On form: Luis Suarez controls the ball under threat from QPR”s Danny Gabbidon

QPR felt they should have had a penalty late on when Alejandro Faurlin went down under Martin Skrtel”s challenge but referee Lee Mason saw nothing wrong.

In the last action of the game Shaun Wright-Phillips deflected Bellamy”s cross on to the bar but, unlike in recent weeks, one goal proved to be enough as Liverpool moved up to sixth in the table.

Jose Mourinho stays silent ahead of Real Madrid v Barcelona "El Clasico"

Madrid deny Mourinho mind games as Jose opts for silent treatment ahead of El Clasico

Jose Mourinho has opted for silence ahead of Saturday”s “El Clasico” match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Mourinho sent his assistant Aitor Karanka to face journalists at a press conference on Friday after the team”s final training session before the match at the Bernabeu Stadium.

Karanka was curt when twice asked why Mourinho was absent.

Mouthpiece: Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka was put forward to speak

Mouthpiece: Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka was put forward to speak

Absent: Madrid boss Jose Mourinho (right)

Absent: Madrid boss Jose Mourinho (right)

“I”ve been here (at press conferences) more than 30 times,” he said, adding that he didn”t need to give further explanations about why Mourinho had decided not to appear.

“Whatever message the boss has is the same one I have and the same the players have.”

It”s not the first time Mourinho has skipped a briefing before important matches. Before hosting Barcelona at the Bernabeu last season, Karanka was also dispatched to answer questions – prompting a number of journalists to walk out in protest at the unprecedented measure.

Karanka also took over media duties while Mourinho was serving a touchline ban from the Champions League earlier this season and has fielded questions ahead of important league matches against Villarreal and Valencia.

Predictably, the assistant coach gave little away. He acknowledged that the game against Barcelona was “special” but said Madrid was preparing “in the same way as for any other match”.

League leaders: Cristiano Ronaldo (right) has fired Real Madrid to the top

League leaders: Cristiano Ronaldo (right) has fired Real Madrid to the top

The clash between Spain”s traditionally biggest clubs has recently been marred by red cards, fights and accusations from Mourinho of bias against his team.

Saturday”s match may be Mourinho”s best chance of claiming a first league win against the reigning champions and some payback for Barcelona”s recent dominance.

Barcelona beat Madrid 5-0 in Mourinho”s first “clasico” and is unbeaten in six league matches against their fierce rivals. In addition, under coach Pep Guardiola, Barcelona have seven wins and three draws against only one loss to Madrid in all competitions.

Nonetheless, Madrid goes into the game in fantastic form and could break a 50-year-old winning record with a 16th straight victory in all competitions on Saturday.

Mourinho tried a more attacking philosophy in the two-legged Supercopa loss to Barcelona in the season opener and must decide whether to persevere with the positive approach.

Dilemma: Mourinho must decide between Kaka and a more defensive player

Dilemma: Mourinho must decide between Kaka and a more defensive player

The Portuguese has already said Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria will start in attack alongside either Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuain.

The main question centers on whether Mourinho will field a deep forward – either Mesut Oezil or Kaka – or move to a three-man midfield with Lassana Diarra or Fabio Coentrao joining Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira in the middle. Karanka mentioned a 4-3-3 formation when discussing tactics Friday, but was quick to add that several other options were possible.

“It”s clear that this is a different game but there are just three points at stake,” Karanka said. “The team is balanced and this match will not make us change.”

Mourinho has named a 23-man squad for the Bernabeu clash, with central defender Ricardo Carvalho the main absentee through injury. Full back Alvaro Arbeloa is also doubtful and will undergo a fitness test on Saturday morning.

Madrid have a three-point lead over Barcelona atop the standings and have played a game less.