Liverpool: Simon Mignolet saved a late penalty on his Liverpool debut to secure a 1-0 win over Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday, with Daniel Sturridge grabbing the winner to prove there's life to the team's strike-force after Luis Suarez.
Sturridge smashed home the goal in the 37th minute, but Stoke was given a golden opportunity to snatch an undeserved point when Daniel Agger handled the ball in the area in the 88th minute.
Jon Walters' penalty was saved by Mignolet low down to his right, however, and Liverpool could celebrate its first opening-day win at Anfield since 2001.
The unsettled Suarez watched the game from an executive box high in the stands as he served the fifth match of a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a league fixture last season.
He may not have played even if he had been available after going public recently with his desire to leave Liverpool, in the wake of an offer of more than 40 million pounds ($62.5 million) from Arsenal.
Suarez's attitude has upset Rodgers but the striker's return to first-team training Friday suggested their relationship has been patched up.
The Uruguay international attended this match, taking to the field an hour before kickoff in his Liverpool strip and carrying daughter Delfina in his arms to a ripple of applause.
He then took his place in the stands with his family and looked on as Sturridge collected a short pass from Iago Aspas—another debutant, alongside Mignolet and Kolo Toure—and fired a shot through the legs of defender Robert Huth and into the corner of the net.
Stoke was showing no discernible change in style or approach under new manager Mark Hughes than there was under old boss Tony Pulis, who left early in the offseason, and Liverpool should have been many more goals ahead by halftime.
As was often the case last season, Liverpool created a string of chances but a mixture of poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping by Asmir Begovic kept Stoke in the game. Toure headed against the crossbar, and Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique were also denied.
At the other end, Huth volleyed against the bar. But Liverpool continued to boss the game in the second half, with Philippe Coutinho curling just wide and Henderson striking the post.
Despite all of Liverpool's dominace, it needed Mignolet's penalty save late in the game to preserve all three points.