Liverpool: Brazilian Magic Conjures Vital Stoke Win
Half-time introduction of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino turns match against the Potters around...
Liverpool responded positively to their midweek setback against AFC Bournemouth, and a poor first half showing against Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday, to earn a crucial three points in their quest for a top four finish.
An unfamiliar line-up, featuring three centre-backs and teenagers Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn, were fortunate not to be further in arrears than just Jonathan Walters' 44th minute header at the interval.
Jürgen Klopp's men failed to register a single shot on target during an underwhelming first half performance that prompted the immediate introduction of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, with Daniel Sturridge soon to follow.
The difference in their play was marked and, shortly after Dejan Lovren had thumped the crossbar, Coutinho was on hand to sweep home the equaliser.
Two minutes later, in the 72nd minute, a point became three when Coutinho's countryman Firmino lashed home a wonderful dipping volley from outside the area.
Both sides had chances to register further goals in the closing stages with visiting keeper Simon Mignolet producing an excellent save to deny Saido Berahino from close-range.
Analysing his side's first away league win of the calendar, Klopp told his post-match press conference the outcome was 'fantastic'.
"They were two completely different halves," admitted the German. "We had to change the system; we couldn't train it really. I don't like it too much but the situation forced it.
"But defending was not a problem. I thought defending could have been more difficult, but that was not a problem.
"We didn't defend like we usually do - we couldn't play high pressure, so we had to stay a little bit deeper, but they didn't create a lot of chances. They scored a goal. This situation was not a question of system, it was only losing two challenges - the first and the second… goal.
"Then, half-time, it was a difficult decision to make because it was not clear that Roberto and Phil would be ready for 45 minutes...
"We scored two fantastic goals and played football in the second half. In the first half we didn't play football; it was not because of Trent or Ben, they were not even involved because we [played] always long balls...
"We played much better football between the spaces, created chances, scored fantastic goals and had luck and a fantastic goalkeeper in two situations.
"We had maybe more situations in the second half, so I thought it was deserved. It was lucky for us, of course, because of the first half but in the end it's deserved and we are completely happy and fine with this game."
Liverpool, who remain third in the standings, face another big away test next weekend when they travel to West Bromwich Albion.
So that's what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below...
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