Liverpool have ended their four-match winless streak with a 1-0 triumph over the Premier League leaders Leicester City on Boxing Day at Anfield.
At the same time, the Foxes have been dealt their only second blow during the entire season in the league. Claudio Ranieri’s charges will have to work hard during the festive period if they are to remain in the title chase.
With in-form Arsenal breathing down their neck, Leicester City will be anticipating the favourable result from the encounter at St Mary’s later tonight when Southampton welcome the Gunners.
Demoralized by their lack of edge, luck and concentration over the past few weeks, Jurgen Klopp’s charges made sure to head into the game against Leicester strong from the off. Dominant in possession throughout the showings, the Reds ultimately managed to break down the well-organized defence and claim the maximum three points which will have brought huge joy for Jurgen Klopp’s team.
The home side opened the game with a wide shot from Philippe Coutinho, who tested his luck after only three minutes.
Leicester City failed to make an impression until the half-hour mark, while Liverpool tried to get on the scoresheet through Emre Can and Divock Origi, who has been the most agile player on the field for the home team during the opening stages of the game.
Liverpool midfielder Can was denied on 23 minutes by Kasper Schmeichel, who produced an excellent save to stop Can’s brilliant effort from the edge of the box.
As for the Belgium forward, Divock Origi had several fine chances within a couple of minutes. On 25 minutes Liverpool striker aimed his attempt to the bottom left corner, but Leicester goalkeeper was once again well positioned. Two minutes later Origi weaved through the defence and got in a good position in front of goal, but his effort blazed over the bar.
The 20-year old striker was forced out of the game through injury only a couple of minutes later with Christian Benteke coming on to replace him. The fans gave Origi a warm applause on his way out to award him for his excellent 38 minutes on the pitch.
Action-packed first interval was rounded by a couple of chances from the visiting team as well.
Jamie Vardy missed a good scoring chance at the half-hour mark, when he was met with a perfect cross in the box. However, Leicester City striker’s header went well over the bar.
Riyiad Mahrez came much closer to scoring a goal on 42 minutes. He pierced through the tight defence avoiding a couple of challenged with his skilled dribbles and fired a shot from the edge of the box to the middle of the goal, but Simon Mignolet pushed the ball over for a corner kick.
Goalless stalemate at the interval, but an interesting event was at display at Anfield.
The beginning of the second half brought the intercepted play and a lot of misplaced passes in the centre of the pitch. With nothing to show for the opening ten minutes, Christian Benteke was the one who rose to the occasion.
The Belgian attempted on 60 minutes, but his header went just over the bar. However, Liverpool forward was awarded for his efforts three minutes later.
Roberto Firmino did excellently to build up a fine play and square the ball up to Benteke, who managed to beat Kasper Schmeichel with a brilliant shot into the bottom right corner.
Benteke’s goal did wonders for the play’s tempo.
Claudio Ranieri made all three substitutions soon after, and the introduction of fresh blood did influence the pace of the game. Nathan Dyer came on for Shinji Okazaki and got into a fine position to score on 74 minutes. He picked up a precise lofted pass inside the area and unleashed a fine striker towards Mignolet, who produced a fantastic save.
Robert Huth also had a chance with five minutes left on the clock, but he was just too high from mid-range.
Christian Benteke had a great chance in the dying moments of the match. Kasper Schmeichel left his goal post to catch on a corner kick for his team, but Liverpool fired a quick counter-attack. Benteke got the ball, but was too hesitant in the finish missing the magnificent opportunity to close the deal.
Luckily for the Belgian there were no changes to the results, his goal separated the two sides in a highly eventful Boxing Day match.
LIVERPOOL: Mignolet 7 – Clyne 6.5, Sakho 6.5, Lovren 7, Moreno 7 – Henderson 7.5, Can 7.5 – Lallana 6 (Allen 6), Firmino 7, Coutinho 7 (Leiva 6) – Origi 7 (Benteke 7.5)
Unused subs: Bogdan, Randall, Teixeira, Toure.
LEICESTER CITY: Schmeichel 6.5 – Simpson 6, Morgan 7, Huth 7, Fuchs 7 – Mahrez 7 (Kramaric 6), King 6.5, Kante 7, Albrighton 6.5 – Okazaki 6 (Dyer 6.5), Vardy 6.5 (Ulloa 6.5)
Unused subs: De Laet, Inler, Schwarzer, Wasilewski.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Other results this evening:
Stoke City 2-0 Manchester United
Aston Villa 1-1 West Ham
Bournemouth 0-0 Crystal Palace
Chelsea 2-2 Watford
Manchester City 4-1 Sunderland
Swansea 1-0 West Brom
Tottenham 3-0 Norwich