By James Miller – @JamesMillernews
After it was finally confirmed that Daniel Sturridge will be leaving the club at the end of this month, let’s celebrate his Liverpool career by looking back on one of his most memorable moments.
In his first full season on Merseyside, the Birmingham-born striker proved himself to be an early hit, contributing with some sublime goals and forging one of the best striker partnerships the Premier League has seen in recent years with Luis Suarez.
On September 1st, 2013, Liverpool welcomed bitter rivals Manchester United to Anfield just a day before what would have been the 100th birthday of the legendary Bill Shankly. The Reds were without key man Suarez who was serving a ban, but Sturridge – celebrating his 24th birthday – rose to the occasion.
Brendan Rodgers’ side got off to a glittering start in a vital game at such an early stage of the 2013/14 campaign. Sturridge, who went into the game off the back of two match-winning goals against Stoke and Aston Villa, nodded in a close-range header to give the home side the lead.
It was a poor opening for United who appeared to be rocked by the noise inside Anfield as the locals remembered Shankly and, if anything, Sturridge’s goal only raised the decibel level. As Daniel Agger leapt highest to meet Steven Gerrard’s corner, David Moyes’ side were left wanting defensively and Sturridge tapped home what proved to be the winning goal.
The game wasn’t the most pulsating ever seen at Anfield, as Liverpool’s control of the game proved to much for their opponents, with fans’ favourite Lucas Leiva putting in a very assured performance next to Gerrard in midfield.
Both sides had opportunities, Robin van Persie coming close with a bicycle kick, while Philippe Coutinho saw his free-kick whistle narrowly over the crossbar.
The second half saw the game open up more with United pushing for that crucial equaliser, but it almost led to their downfall when David de Gea was left in trouble after a short back-pass from Nemanja Vidic almost allowed Glen Johnson to nip in.
Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet – who was yet to concede a Premier League goal since joining from Sunderland in the summer – was tested 15 minutes from time by Nani, but in the end the Reds never looked at risk and almost added to their tally moments from time through teenager Raheem Sterling.
As the final whistle blew, it was misery for Moyes heading back to Manchester with his first defeat as United manager. Sturridge, though, had came away with the perfect birthday present.
A match-winner, a finisher and modern-day legend at the club, Sturridge will most definitely be a huge miss, although he leaves on a high with a Champions League winners medal, his first – and last – piece of silverware at the club.