Liverpool took a step toward Wembley Stadium as it secured a 1-0 victory over Stoke City in an absorbing Capital One Cup semifinal, first-leg game Tuesday at the Britannia Stadium.
The Reds, who lost Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren to injury inside the opening half, deservedly took the lead when substitute Jordon Ibe fired home from close range in the 37th minute after Adam Lallana’s low center fell for him.
It proved to be the only goal of the contest but was just rewards for the efforts of Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, who ensured they’ll take an advantage into the second leg at Anfield on January 26.
The Reds made a hugely encouraging, dynamic start as they pinned their hosts back in the early stages, forcing an early flurry of corners and applying heavy pressure from the off.
However, their game plan sustained a huge blow with 18 minutes played as Coutinho limped off to be replaced by Ibe.
The injury situation worsened just after the half-hour when Lovren was next to hobble off with a knock. James Milner replaced Lovren, with Lucas dropping into defense.
Nevertheless, Liverpool’s start was deservedly rewarded eight minutes before the break when Ibe fired it into the lead.
As the game ticked towards its conclusion, Stoke applied heavy pressure onto the visitors’ goal, but Liverpool’s makeshift backline — now featuring Emre Can alongside Lucas due to an injury picked up by Kolo Toure — remained resolute to clinch what could prove to be a vital victory in the quest for silverware this season.
Thumbnail photo via LiverpoolFC.com
Thumbnail photo via Jordon Ibe celebrates goal in Liverpool's Capital One Cup win over Stoke City.
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