Leicester 1-0 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp’s men dealt a HUGE blow in the Premier League title race as super-sub Ademola Lookman downs the Reds after Mohamed Salah earlier missed a penalty
- Former Everton forward Ademola Lookman grabbed winner just seconds after coming off the bench
- The forward produced a neat run inside the Liverpool box before firing home just before the hour mark
- Mohamed Salah saw first half penalty saved by Kasper Schmeichel before hitting crossbar from rebound
- Sadio Mane missed an excellent chance in the second half as Reds were made to pay for poor finishing
- Liverpool remain six points off Premier League leaders Manchester City at the halfway point of the season
The pre-game warning was emphatic. To stand any chance of becoming champions, Jurgen Klopp had told Liverpool’s players they could not make any mistakes.
Liverpool are usually so adept at following their manager’s commands but, on this occasion, the opposite was true. How bitter the irony for Klopp that on a night when they need clarity and composure, they were confused and careless. And how it has cost them.
From a missed Mohamed Salah penalty and squandered chances (21 shots, none converted) to the easy concession of Ademola Lookman’s decisive goal, it might be December 29 but the ramifications of this defeat at Leicester City are likely to be long-lasting in the title race.
Leicester City players celebrate Ademola Lookman’s winning goal during their 1-0 Premier League victory over Liverpool
Lookman’s goal came just after two minutes the Everton forward was introduced as a substitute at the King Power Stadium
Virgil van Dijk couldn’t charge down Lookman quick enough after the striker jinked through the Liverpool penalty box
Mohamed Salah wasted an excellent chance to give Liverpool a first half lead after failing to score from the penalty spot
Salah struck a poor penalty kick that Schmeichel easily parried away before he headed the rebound against the crossbar
By the time Liverpool next play, at Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, they could – and most probably will – be 12 points behind Manchester City. History tells you Pep Guardiola isn’t accustomed to relinquishing such advantages. Why should it be any different this time?
‘What can we say?’ said Virgil van Dijk. ‘The season is so, so long. Anything can happen. You have seen it with Covid and injuries – lots of things can change. There’s no point looking at City or Chelsea or the other teams around us. We look at ourselves.’
That Liverpool find themselves in this position was down a combination of factors but perhaps the biggest was from Kasper Schmeichel, who changed the course of the contest – and potentially the direction of the campaign – when he plunged to his right in the 15th minute.
Daniel Amartey was clumsy when trying to dispossess Salah but he made no contact with ball and gave Michael Oliver an easy decision. Brendan Rodgers shook his head, bubbling with frustration; he, like everyone else, assumed the next time Leicester would touch the ball was at the kick-off.
You should never, however, assume anything in football. Salah’s shot was powerful but it was too close to Schmeichel, who saved and earned himself some luck when the Egyptian headed the rebound against the bar.
Schmeichel, Castagne, Amartey, Ndidi, Thomas, Choudhury (Lookman 56), Soumare, Dewsbury-Hall, Maddison (Albrighton 68), Vardy, Iheanacho (Tielemans 55).
Subs not used: Ward, Perez, Vestergaard, Daley-Campbell, Nelson, McAteer.
Goal: Lookman 59
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Henderson (Firmino 70), Fabinho (Milner 64), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Keita 55), Salah, Jota, Mane.
Subs not used: Konate, Gomez, Jones, Kelleher, Beck, Williams.
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
Season at a glance
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp (right) appeals from the touchline after Joel Matip and Kelechi Iheanacho battle for the ball
Sadio Mane wasted Liverpool’s best chance of the second half as he rifled over under pressure form Timothy Castagne
It was the first time since October 2017 – in a game against Huddersfield – that Salah had missed from 12 yards in the Premier League and it transformed the mood in the stadium, the home fans celebrating as if they had a goal of their own.
Suddenly, all the gripes about playing 48 hours after that basketball game against Manchester City and the grumbles over bad results were gone. Leicester scampered and scurried after red shirts to win back possession, as all Rodgers’s teams do when they are in the groove.
Liverpool, by contrast, started performing in a way that left Klopp theatrically clasping his baseball cap in dismay – on too many occasions they chose the wrong option with a shot or a pass, nobody more so than Salah, who seemed rattled and frustrated in equal measure.
He did have a chance to atone in the 32nd minute when Luke Thomas and Amartey got into a tangle but Schmeichel threw a big, strong arm in the direction of a left foot shot and pushed it over the bar; Salah looked back at the Dane and started laughing, almost in a state of disbelief.
Here was the point when you began to suspect that it was made for Leicester, who left the field at half-time to thunderous encouragement, to catch Liverpool with a sucker-punch. Of course the visitors would apply more pressure but, watching Klopp’s team, something wasn’t right.
‘It was a very strange game,’ Klopp gloomily noted. ‘We were just not good enough.’
Leicester though will be concerned with James Maddison after the midfielder limped off injured late in the second half
Jamie Vardy also needed treatment late in the game but stayed on to help the Foxes hang on in the final 20 minutes
High stakes lead to heightened emotions and a glimpse of what was riding on this for Liverpool came four minutes into the second period. A break down the left ended with Diogo Jota playing a ball fractionally too late to Sadio Mane, who handled to control.
In a flash, Mane spun and started jabbering at Jota, telling him to look up and pass. The message got through, as moments later, the Portuguese sent Mane haring into Leicester’s area – 12 yards out, with Schmeichel already diving, he seemed certain to score. Not so. Over the bar his shot went.
This was uncharacteristic of Liverpool. They don’t tend to be impetuous, they aren’t usually rash but this was scruffy – horribly so – and the more Rodgers looked at it, the more he knew there were gains to be made.
So he turned to his bench and introduced Lookman and Youri Tielemans and, almost immediately, they had the lead. Lookman picked up possession on the halfway line, ushered the excellent Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall forward, and carried his run to get the return pass.
Leicester had 10 players defending inside their penalty box to try and hang on as Wilfried Ndidi blocks a James Milner cross
Schmeichel congratulates match winner Lookman after Brendan Rodgers’s side held on for a huge three points
Could he supply the finish? You bet he could. With Liverpool’s defenders backing off, Lookman swept the ball past Alisson, hard and low and into the bottom corner. The noise that greeted it was wonderful, an explosion of joy that an exultant Rodgers happily joined in.
‘I’m lost for words because it was such a heroic performance,’ he beamed.
To think there are some Leicester fans who have been grumbling about him in recent weeks. Rodgers masterminded one of the greatest results in the club’s history seven short months ago, when winning the FA Cup. He’s a terrific manager, one they are lucky to have.
This performance, from a seemingly impossible situation, was put together by him and all over the pitch there were men in Blue running themselves to a standstill to make sure they got the rewards their endeavours deserved.
The final moments were like a siege, with goalkeeper Alisson even joining in the attack, but there was to be no get out of jail card this time, unlike at West Brom in May, when he produced that header.
Leicester had done enough and were over the line – sentiments that may soon apply to Manchester City, too.
RE-LIVE ALL THE ACTION AS IT HAPPENED…
90+4min: Big cheers from the Leicester crowd though as Joel Matip heads over Trent Alexander-Arnold’s back post corner. The Foxes just seconds away from a massive victorr.
90+3min: Nearly every Leicester player is defending inside of their box now. Only Jamie Vardy remains an outlet and he is still running his legs off. Alisson comes forward for a corner…
90min: Liverpool love a late show – they equalised against Leicester in stoppage time last week of course – and they win another corner. One that’s cleared.
There will be five minutes added on. More than a few nervous groans among the home fans.
88min: Another Liverpool corner as Ndidi blocks a byline cross from Milner (below). Once again Liverpool win it, but Mane can only glance wide.
85min: Five minutes to go and it’s all Liverpool attacking now as Schmeichel denies Van Dijk’s low shot from an acute angle.
82min: Chance for Liverpool. Leicester are nearly exposed from the set-piece again as Diogo Jota connects with a header from a corner while in a central position, but he can only nod off target.
80min: Free-kick to Liverpool out wide. It’s fizzed to the back post for Mohamed Salah, but he is unable to keep his volley down as he rifles over the bar. He’s been watching Henderson too much.
79min: Lots of Liverpool possession and not much else. That big 20 minutes? Half of it has gone and we have seen next to nothing from Liverpool so far.
76min: A second wind is surely on the way from Liverpool but right now they are not exactly giving the Foxes too many problems.
73min: An unofficial drinks break on the touchline as Leicester could have another injury problem here. Jamie Vardy is down near the halfway line and receiving treatment and he doesn’t look in good shape at all. Both sides remember have used all their substitutes.
70min: Final change for the Reds as Henderson makes way for Roberto Firmino as Jurgen Klopp throws on a fourth forward and perhaps with it the kitchen sink. Big 20 minutes coming up here for both clubs.
68min: Huge blow for Leicester this. James Maddison appears to have picked up a calf injury while making a sliding challenge to win the ball off Kostas Tsimikas and he has had to depart the field of play to make way for Marc Albrighton.
64min: Second change for Liverpool as the old legs of James Milner come on for Fabinho. Liverpool haven’t quite got going again since conceding
59min: And that is an instant impact! Dewsbury-Hall plays Ademola Lookman in on goal, and the former Everton forward jinks past Matip before hammering a finish past Alisson at his near post.
56min: Big miss for Liverpool. Jota pokes a through ball that Sadio Mane latches on to inside the box, but with just Schmeichel to beat he lifts a poor finish over the bar. You expect more from him there.
Changes for both teams as Keita replaces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Leicester send on Ademola Lookman and Youri Tielemans for Hamza Choudhury and Kelechi Iheanacho.
54min: Changes on the way for Liverpool. Naby Keita is getting stripped down and ready to come on.
51min: Brilliant play from Leicester. Kieran Dewsbury-Hall plays a lovely one-two down the left that leaves Trent Alexander-Arnold flat footed, before his whipped cross into the box is turned away by Kostas Tsimikas with Jamie Vardy lurking dangerously unmarked at the backpost.
48min: It’s like half-time never happened. Liverpool back on the attack at the start of the second half. Kasper Schmeichel with little to do thus far though.
45+1min: That wasn’t an easy watch. Iheanacho and Matip jump for a header but the Leicester striker appears to land on his neck on his way back down.
Concerned groans from the crowd following the landing but fortunately a slow-mo replay shows his landing was just about on his upper back, protecting his neck and he thankfully gets up unharmed.
45min: As we enter one minute of stoppage time, Jota snaps an eight yard volley through a crowd of players and just wide.
43min: Another Leicester corner, and another one they (just about) survive. The ball falls again, for the third time this evening, to Henderson on the volley but his strike by cutting across the ball fizzes just over. That was a bit closer that one.
40min: Just five minutes before the break and while Liverpool have been slightly the better side, I don’t think Brendan Rodgers will be too disappointed with the effort of his players so far. They have held back Liverpool well.
37min: Some good play from Leicester in the last few minutes and they perhaps should be in front. (I think) Ndidi bullies Salah off the ball before releasing Vardy down the right, who then spots an underlapping run from Maddison into the box.
With time on the ball though, the midfielder snaps at a low shot across goal that is cleared. With the time he had he could have had a better pick of where to place that effort even if the angle was still slightly unfavourable.
34min: Finally – a Leicester attack! James Maddison’s clever flick puts Jamie Vardy in on goal but his low shot across the face of the target is crucially turned over the bar by Matip. Excellent defending.
31min: Schmeichel to the rescue again as he denies Salah from close range by deflecting his strike over the crossbar.
Virgil van Dijk wins the header from the resulting corner, but that is cleared from the goalline by a defender – although Schmeichel probably had it covered.
28min: You sense a Liverpool goal is coming. Henderson flicks a cross with his head towards an unmarked Diogo Jota at the back post, but Schmeichel is off his line with rapid alertness to block his effort from close range. Either way the offside flag was up against the Portuguese forward anyway.
27min: Henderson is brought down by Luke Thomas to win a free-kick on the corner of the box, but while Daniel Amartey heads clear, Henderson’s latest attempt to strike a Paul Scholes-esque volley results in him firing well over the crossbar.
22min: Liverpool’s pressure continues as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain chips a lovely ball into the box like he is trying to find the green on a golf course. Henderson is unable to make contact with his head to divert it towards goal but Schmeichel has to awkwardly dive to his near post to keep it out before the ball is scrambled clear.
19min: That should be a wake-up call for the Foxes who really have not got going in this game. Granted, few teams can outplay Liverpool but the hosts look lethargic.
Having typed the previous sentence, Soumare now needs treatment following a sliding challenge on Jordan Henderson.
16min: Cheers from the Leicester fans – for about the first time tonight – as Kasper Schmeichel dives to his right to save a very poor penalty from Salah before the Egyptian heads the rebound against the crossbar, then cannot convert that rebound on the volley either!
14min: Silly foul from Wilfried Ndidi, who sticks a clumsy leg out to trip Mohamed Salah who was jinking his way through the penalty box.
11min: Here we go then. The Leicester achilles heel – set-pieces. They concede their first corner, but despite Matip winning the header from the resulting delivery he can only nod over the crossbar.
9min: Not bad that, not bad at all. The ball drops down on to the volley for Jordan Henderson, but with a goal of the season contender in his mind he blasts a powerful volley over the crossbar from 25 yards. Worth a go, mind.
6min: Treading egg shells already for Joel Matip with the Liverpool centre-back booked following a late challenge.
Kostas Tsimikas delivers a decent cross into the box which is headed back into the path of Diogo Jota, only for him to see his shot blocked. At the other end Bobakary Soumare blasts a James Maddison lay-off from 20 yards over the crossbar.
3min: Not much to report in the opening few minutes. Liverpool are looking slick on the ball but they have not done much to trouble the Leicester defence thus far.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Castagne, Amartey, Ndidi, Thomas, Choudhury, Soumare, Dewsbury-Hall, Maddison, Vardy, Iheanacho.
Subs: Tielemans, Albrighton, Ward, Perez, Vestergaard, Lookman, Daley-Campbell, Nelson, McAteer.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Henderson, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Jota, Mane.
Subs: Konate, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Gomez, Jones, Kelleher, Beck, Williams.
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
A win for Liverpool and they give Manchester City something to think about over the new year period.
Leicester meanwhile are chasing three points and just their third Premier League victory since the end of October to take them into the top 10.
‘We could train with Boxing Day postponement,’ Klopp told Amazon Prime. ‘Curtis Jones is back in training and Thiago was back for one day but he felt a knock the next day so we left him at home.
‘It’s a really strong side they have, looks like a diamond with Maddison between the lines. It caused us problems last time, hopefully we have learned from it.’
On dropping Youri Tilemans:
‘You need that energy in midfield,’ he told Amazon Prime. ‘We only played on Sunday. From a defensive perspective we have to be really strong .Liverpool are a top team.
‘You have to not give away silly goals an stay strong and play with as much energy as possible we know we can score goals.’
On James Maddison’s return to form:
‘His consistency is right up there now. He’s been a top talent but to be a top player tyou have to be consistent. The defensive side of his game has helped take his attacking game to another level.’
Liverpool 3-3 Leicester (penalties 5-4): Reds reach Carabao Cup semi-finals after dramatic penalty shootout win over Leicester as Takumi Minamino’s 95th-minute leveller ensures thriller ends 3-3 before Caoimhin Kelleher heroics
Let’s hope tonight’s match is just as entertaining as their Carabao Cup clash six days ago – the last time Liverpool played – where the Reds struck deep into stoppage time to force a draw and then proceed to the semi-finals via penalties.
No shootouts tonight, but Liverpool do have their A-team back in action.
Following their 2-2 draw at Tottenham in their last Premier League outing before Christmas, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp makes five changes as Kostas Tsimikas replaces the suspended Andy Robertson, while in midfield Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson come in for James Milner, Naby Keita, and Tyler Morton.
Meanwhile, centre-back Virgil van Dijk makes a welcome return in place of Ibrahima Koante.
Leicester also make five changes having only played as recently as Boxing Day in a 6-3 defeat at Manchester City as Timothy Castagne, Wilfried Ndidi, Boubakary Soumare, Hamza Choudhury and Jamie Vardy replace Jannik Vestergaard, Youri Tielemans, Marc Albrighton, Ayoze Perez and Ademola Lookman.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Salah, Jota.
But who starts? Team news coming next…
P.S Big fan of Sadio Mane rocking three-quarter lengths at this time of the year. Short sleeves and no gloves I hope for him tonight.
At least not on camera, although manager Jurgen Klopp is at the King Power Stadium and I highly doubt he would have forgotten to bring his team with him.
The likes of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans below will be hoping the Foxes can end the year with a win given their recent struggles for form.
Not least at Southampton where Tottenham were denied two goals to win against the ten-man Saints which you can read more about here. To think we have had two postponed games in relation to Covid as well!
We are just about hitting the halfway mark of the Premier League campaign, and Liverpool will be hoping to enter the second half (the business one) of the season hot on the heels of league leaders Manchester City as I welcome you to our live coverage of Leicester City vs Liverpool.
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