Liverpool ended a run of four games without a win as Christian Benteke’s second-half strike saw them beat Premier League leaders Leicester City 1-0.
Claudio Ranieri’s side secured top spot for Christmas with a thrilling 3-2 win at Everton last week but they struggled to make an impact against their Merseyside rivals at Anfield on Boxing Day.
Divock Origi came close twice in the first half before he was forced off with a hamstring injury, but his replacement Benteke fired home Roberto Firmino’s cross with 63 minutes played to clinch a much-needed victory for Jurgen Klopp and condemn Leicester to just a second league defeat of the season.
Riyad Mahrez looked a threat on the counter throughout for Leicester but Ranieri’s men found it difficult to sustain an attacking threat against Liverpool’s intense pressing.
N’Golo Kante came close to an equaliser but Liverpool held out for the three points, in the process becoming the first side in the top flight this season to keep a clean sheet against Leicester.
In an end-to-end opening period, Leicester had a penalty shout waved away when Mamadou Sakho tripped Shinji Okazaki, before Adam Lallana blasted just past the near post as he raced into the visitors’ area.
Origi shot just over the bar after cutting in from the right before forcing Kasper Schmeichel into a good save at his near post after he drove into space in the area, but the Belgian forward limped off shortly before half-time with what looked to be a problem with his right hamstring.
Liverpool almost found themselves a goal behind when the in-form Mahrez showed great feet to skip into space 18 yards out, but Simon Mignolet reacted well to parry his rasping drive over the bar.
Klopp’s side had fired in 18 shots in the first half but Leicester kept them at arm’s length early in the second, despite the hosts continuing to dominate possession, until Benteke struck just past the hour mark.
Firmino clipped a cross from the left into the path of Benteke, who placed a right-footed shot on the stretch into the bottom-right corner, giving Schmeichel no chance.
Ranieri substituted top scorer Jamie Vardy, who took a knock to his ankle early in the half, as Leicester sought a foothold in the match, and Mignolet was forced into a fine reaction stop to keep out Kante’s attempt from close range.
The visitors continued to apply late pressure but Liverpool’s rearguard remained resolute, before Benteke missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 in injury time, as Anfield celebrated a first home win since November 29 against Swansea City.
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