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Liverpool avoid major upset by edging out Mansfield

Goals from Daniel Sturridge on his debut and Luis Suarez gave the Reds a narrow victory over their non-league opponents.

Mansfield Town's Matt Green (left) and Liverpool's Sebastian Coates (right) battle for the ball.
Mansfield Town's Matt Green (left) and Liverpool's Sebastian Coates (right) battle for the ball.
Image: Mansfield Town's Matt Green (left) and Liverpool's Sebastian Coates (right) battle for the ball

LUIS SUAREZ SPARKED a new handball storm by helping Liverpool edge non-league Mansfield Town 2-1 in the FA Cup third round on Sunday, after Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw by Swansea City.

Suarez came off the bench to double Liverpool’s lead after Daniel Sturridge had opened the scoring on his debut, but his goal prompted an angry reaction from the fifth-tier hosts, who later replied through Matt Green.

The Uruguay international, who famously used his hand to block a goal-bound shot in a World Cup quarter-final with Ghana in 2010, appeared to stop the ball with his hand in the process of scoring, but the officials let the goal stand.

Liverpool will now face third-tier Oldham Athletic for a place in round five.

Sturridge, a €14.8 million signing from Chelsea, broke the deadlock in the seventh minute at Field Mill, running onto Jonjo Shelvey’s pass and beating Mansfield goalkeeper Alan Marriott.

Marriott denied Sturridge a second goal on two occasions in the first half, but the Stags could have drawn level in the 36th minute when Green’s rising drive forced Brad Jones into a flying save.

Mansfield Town’s owner John Radford alongside wife and chief executive Carolyn Still. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mansfield put Liverpool’s goal under sustained pressure early in the second half before the visitors turned to Suarez, who doubled his side’s lead in controversial circumstances in the 59th minute.

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After squeezing between a pair of challenges, the Uruguayan saw an initial shot saved by Marriott but the ball rebounded against his right hand and he stroked it into an empty net to furious protests from the nearby defenders.

Green finished on the turn from 12 yards with 11 minutes to play, but Liverpool held on to steer clear of a famous upset.

- © AFP, 2012

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