LIVERPOOL 4 VS LEICESTER CITY 1: Reds take the champions to the cleaners
LIVERPOOL V LEICESTER: MATCH REVIEW
Starting XI (4-3-3): Mignolet, Clyne, Lucas, Matip, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Mané, Firmino, Sturridge.
Subs: Coutinho, Stewart, Moreno, Karius, Klavan, Grujic, Origi.
The Reds had two things to draw motivation from today – playing inside the new 54k capacity Anfield park with the glorious Main Stand, and playing the defending EPL Champions. Klopp’s first home game of the season and against the Champions with literally all to play for had him looking to the 8,500 more fans to propel his side to victory on this special day.
Claudio Ranieri’s side looked to do two things too – pick up some much needed momentum, and crash the Anfield Main Stand party.
Jurgen Klopp made two changes to the side that drew against Tottenham, with Lucas Leiva and Daniel Sturridge coming into the starting line-up to replace Dejan Lovren and Phillipe Coutinho, respectively.
The deadlock was broken in less than 15 minutes by Firmino after Milner cut inside from the left wing and sent an excellent pass to the Brazilian at the edge of Leicester’s penalty box who almost instinctively skipped past Huth before wrong-footing Schmeichel in goal with an excellent strike that left the keeper exasperated and red-faced.
There was to be no respite as the Reds continued piling on the pressure and as sure as the rains in Manchester, continued their impressive start with a wonderful team goal in the 31st minute as a glorious chip-pass by Henderson went over the Leicester back line and into the path of Sturridge, who met the ball in front of Simpson, charged into the right-hand side of the box before sending an immaculate backheel flick-pass to Mané, who then fired a chipped shot off the outstretched hand of Schmeichel and into the back of the net to give the Reds a two-goal cushion.
The Reds seemed to have the journey to their first home win of the season in auto-pilot with fantastic build-up plays and most importantly some resilient defending until the 38th minute when Lucas Leiva, under pressure by Okazaki, attempted a back pass following a heavy touch sent a dreadful ball straight to none other than Leicester’s danger-man himself, Vardy, who wasted no time to convert the gift of a pass with an easy tap in to restore hopes of a comeback.
What was once a resilient Red backline now seemed nervy when tackling and containing Leicester’s attacks with Mignolet clearly grateful for the half-time whistle after a howler that got mopped up and a Huth header that hit the crossbar saw the Reds just holding on to momentum on paper going into the break.
The second half saw Ahmed Musa coming in for Okazaki looking to keep the push going but any fears that a Leicester comeback was on the cards was put to bed, however, as Liverpool soon got their groove back and another goal as Lallana sent a cracking effort into the top corner of Schmeichel’s goal from Wijnaldum’s pass.
Late on, Sadio Mané beat Schmeichel to a loose ball as the Dane looked to play sweeper-keeper to stop him well outside Leicester’s 18. Mané smartly skipped over Schmeichel’s tackle before squaring the ball to Firmino to score this second goal.
4-1 it ended, an ideal start to the home campaign and a comprehensive win over the defending Champions.
Simon Mignolet – 7.3/10
Strong performance, neutralized a lot of crosses and made a crucial stop to Vardy’s attempt in the second half.
Nathaniel Clyne – 7.6/10
Clyne was very solid in defense and an inexorable channel in attacking areas. More confidence is always welcome.
Joel Matip – 7.5/10
Was very composed and showed very good understanding of the game. Remained unfazed in the face of every Vardy attack.
Lucas Leiva – 6.9/10
Besides the mistake in the first half, the Brazilian had a very good game. Showed remarkable mental strength to recover from that blunder.
James Milner – 8.0/10
Looking very comfortable in his role, very impressive all-round game, really stepped up to the occasion.
Jordan Henderson – 8.0/10
Bossed the midfield, created opportunities, missed out the chance to put a cherry on-top a brilliant outing to score in the second half.
Gini Wijnaldum – 7.3/10
Was at the center of almost all of Liverpool’s dominating build-up plays. Provided the assist for Lallana’s screamer; very clean game.
Adam Lallana – 8.7/10
Today has to be one of the highlights of his season with that cracking second half goal; was very involved all match.
Sadio Mané – 8.9/10
This man keeps showing what an incredible asset he is; wonderful chip goal and the energetic run late in the second half to set up Firmino’s goal. Truly remarkable.
Roberto Firmino – 9.2/10
Unbelievable work rate, clever movement, and two excellent finishes. Easily the best player on the pitch today.
Daniel Sturridge – 7.1/10
Looked to get on the scoreboard but an assist and some impressive runs was all he could muster. Hoping for better from the Englishman in the coming weeks.