Liverpool crucially beat Leicester City 1-0 today at Anfield, in front of an excited, packed Boxing Day crowd.
Christian Benteke scored in the second-half to send the Kop into raptures, after a nervy but ultimately successful Anfield afternoon.
Jurgen Klopp switched to a 4-4-2, directly matching Claudio Ranieri’s men with his formation. This meant Coutinho and Adam Lallana started on the wings, with Roberto Firmino partnering Divock Origi up top. Benteke, who’s held discussions this week with the manager regarding his role in the side, began on the bench.
Leicester looked dangerous on the break early on, and Okazaki had a decent shout for a penalty after 14 minutes when the shaky Mamadou Sakho probably fouled him in fairness. Thankfully it wasn’t given though and Coutinho should have rubbed salt in the wound 30 seconds later, firing over from the edge of the box with Klopp ready to celebrate. Adam Lallana then smashed wide when through on goal in what was becoming a classic, feisty Boxing Day encounter.
— Liverpool Gifs (@LiverpoolGifs) December 26, 2015
Liverpool grew into the game and ended up dominating territory without truly carving out goalscoring chances. The fullbacks bombed on and we we had plenty of the ball, but the rapid Jamie Vardy and co. always offered a serious threat on the counter attack. Sadly, Divock Origi was withdrawn after 37 minute with a conspicuous injury and Benteke replaced his Belgian counterpart. There’s been much criticism of the £32.5m striker, who now had 60 minutes to silence some of his doubters.
Mignolet made his first save off the afternoon off Mahrez, who looked every bit the £25m player he’s been touted as and more.
The second-half began and Sakho’s unsure play continued. The Frenchman gifted Leicester the ball in the final third, but thankfully Jordan Henderson bailed him out. It’s a shame because Sakho was easily our best defender before his knee injury, and he’s looked like a liability since. Captain Henderson then delivered a beautiful ball for Benteke, who fluffed his chance in the opposition area.
Just as fans were beginning to think a bore 0-0 was a possibility, the game exploded into life. Firmino, who’d been poor to this point, beat the fullback down the edge of the penalty area and perfectly fed Benteke – who slammed home.
The goal settled Liverpool and allowed us to play with freedom, especially with Vardy and Mahrez withdrawn for the visitors with Ranieri looking to save his two best players. Benteke showed his strength on multiple occasions and Firmino’s touch and confidence boomed.
Coutinho almost scored a wondergoal from 35 years and Mignolet made a good late save, while Firmino also slashed at a late opportunity, but ultimately Liverpool held on for a crucial home win.
At the final whistle, Benteke missed an open goal, which would have seen him score a brace and leave totally happy, but again, we’ll let him off.