liverpool
Liverpool Stroke Stoke 4-1, Regain Second Spot/Photo: AP

By Andah John with agency report

Liverpool moved into second and closed the gap on leaders Chelsea to six points after a comfortable 4-1 win over Stoke City.

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Jon Walters stunned the home side when he headed home with just 12 minutes on the clock.

But Liverpool recovered from a poor start, with Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino scoring before the break to put them in front.

And an own goal by Giannelli Imbula, when he directed Divock Origi’s cross into his own net, all but sealed victory Liverpool.

But the Reds needed a gloss to the scoreline and Daniel Sturridge was on hand to do justice to it as he scored his first league goal of the season — and Liverpool’s 100th under manager Klopp.

The win lifted Jurgen Kloppe’s men one point above third-placed Manchester City, their next opponents on New Year’s Eve.

In the game

There was a period in the first half when Liverpool looked exposed.

Simon Mignolet, again preferred in goal to Loris Karius as Klopp stuck to the team which started the derby win against Everton, should have saved Walters’ close-range header.

It was a mistake which will once again open up the debate over who should be the manager’s first-choice goalkeeper.

But, in attack, the Reds were as quick, incisive and destructive as they have been throughout the season.

Liverpool have now scored 86 league goals in 2016 —- their most in a calendar year since 1985.

They ended the match having made a total of 20 shots, six of which were on target.

Once the impressive Lallana equalised, sweeping home from an acute angle after Glen Johnson failed to clear the danger inside his six-yard box, the Reds were completely dominant.