Liverpool is back on the winning track, and the positive change comes at Leicester City’s expense.
Liverpool topped Leicester City 1-0 in the Premier League on Saturday at Anfield. Christian Benteke scored in the 63rd minute to give the Reds the edge. Liverpool’s three-game Premier League winless run has come to an end. So has Leicester City’s 10-game unbeaten streak, which included December wins over Swansea City, Chelsea and Everton.
The win moves Liverpool up to eighth place in the Premier League standings with 27 points after 18 games. Leicester City remains on top, but its lead over challengers Arsenal and Manchester City has reduced.
The Reds bossed the game long and well enough to earn full rewards. They also had the mental strength required to hold off Leicester City’s late charge.
As expected, Liverpool enjoyed healthy advantages in possession and territory at Anfield. Leicester City often cedes both, while looking to counter-attack with speed.
The first half proceeded in this vein, with Liverpool creating the better scoring opportunities. Philippe Coutinho missed a pair of chances inside the opening 20 minutes. Leicester City was looking shaky at the back early on, particularly goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Leicester City found its footing as the half neared its end. The ever-dangerous Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez had opportunities miss the target and saved, respectively.
But it was all Liverpool after 45 minutes.
Benteke started on the bench, but an injury Divock Origi suffered late in the first half forced manager Jurgen Klopp to replace one Belgian for another. The move turned out be decisive.
Emre Can and Roberto Firmino opened Leicester City’s defense with a neat exchange in the 63rd minute. Firmino then crossed to Benteke, who slid a half-volleyed shot past the diving Schmeichel into the goal.
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri replaced a hobbling Vardy and Shinji Okazaki with Leonardo Ulloa and Nathan Dyer in the 70th minute. Andrej Kramaric replaced Mahrez 12 minutes later. The changes made Leicester City less predictable, but Liverpool ultimately had the resolve to hold the lead through the final whistle.
The Foxes lead the Premier League in points, and goals, but Liverpool blanked them on both fronts — something most opponents have struggled to do in 2015.
Center backs Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho were busy thwarting Leicester City’s counter attack all afternoon.
Liverpool has a short turnaround, as it visits Sunderland on Wednesday in the second game of the festive period.
Thumbnail photo via LiverpoolFC.com
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