A Philippe Coutinho stunner helped Liverpool FC beat Stoke City in the dying minutes of their first game of the new English Premier League season.
Mark Hughes’ Stoke City looked on course to pick up deserved points against Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool FC for the second season in a row. That was until Philippe Coutinho intervened to help the Anfield club to all three points with an absolute screamer from long range. The win helped the Merseysiders put to bed, the ghosts of last season’s 6-1 humiliation at the Britannia.
Brendan Rodgers handed league debuts to four of his seven new signings including Christian Benteke, Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Gomez and James Milner. Mark Hughes also handed competitive debuts to three players, which included former Liverpool FC full-back Glen Johnson and former FC Barcelona winger Ibrahim Afellay. Roberto Firmino was introduced in the second half as the Anfield club went for broke in search of a winner.
The 6-1 humiliation of Liverpool happened on the last day of the Premier League last season and 77 days later, the Anfield club fielded a side that only had four members who started that fateful night. The visitors failed to create many goal-scoring opportunities of note, and the game was headed towards a boring goalless draw. Christian Benteke’s physical threat was largely negated by the makeshift centre-back pairing of Geoff Cameron and Philipp Wollscheid.
The Reds did look better in the second half, following the withdrawal of Adam Lallana, who had a particularly disappointing game. A?29 million signing Roberto Firmino had a quiet game following his introduction in the second half and it was his Brazilian team-mate Coutinho who stole the show.
In the 86th minute, Coutinho got hold of the ball on the left hand side and cut inside taking a few steps, before unleashing an unstoppable strike from about 30-yards-out which flew past the helpless Jack Butland. Butland has become the new number 1 for the Potters following the sale of Asmir Begovic to Chelsea FC.
It was a great strike to win the game – Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers revealed in the post match press conference that he was about to replace Coutinho with Danny Ings just when the Brazilian scored the winner.
Speaking in the post match press conference as quoted by the club’s official website, Rodgers said, “I was very close to taking him off. We felt towards the end of the game, in the last 15 minutes, Glen Johnson had started to get a little bit of space on the left side and wea d moved Phil out from the central area onto the left. But we still wanted to win the game, so we were looking at making a positive change a so he was going to come off and we were going to put Danny Ings on. But when you score the goal, your mind changes. Ia m glad I kept him on!”
Rodgers added, a I think hea s shown his quality for such a young player. Hea s only been back three weeks in training, so hea s not at the top of his fitness.
a It was a great turn, hea s got away from the midfield player and hit a wonderful strike. It was a great strike to win the game.a
The 42-year-old also hailed the character of his new signings and reserved special praise for A?32.5 million signing Christian Benteke.
a The players that we brought in have that character,a Rodgers added.
a Look at Benteke up front; people talk about him only being a player that can play off a long ball, but you saw his quality today a his set-up of the game, his movement, his strength, his power and that ability in the air. Of course you should have that at 6ft4, but he was outstanding today.
a Young Joe Gomez, at 18 years of age, playing against a really good player in Jonathan Walters, I thought he handled it and as the game wore on he became even stronger.
a Nathaniel Clyne has been outstanding since he came in, James Milner with that experience.
a And the boys that were on the bench and came on, Firmino and the other guys, have all settled in really well. Ita s a team that certainly has that personality, but of course youa ve got to show it in the game and they did that.a
We matched them toe-to-toe today – Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes on the other hand, reflected on the loss saying that Stoke City didn’t deserve to lose the game. The Welshman praised his players for going toe-to-toe with Liverpool FC and reckoned that the team would have been satisfied with a draw.
a It was a game of very few chances to be perfectly honest, and I dona t think anybody inside the stadium will have walked away thinking Liverpool deserved to win it,a the manager was quoted as saying by the club’s official website.
a In the end Coutinho has produced a moment of absolute brilliance and that has proven to be the difference between two very even sides I would suggest.
a Ita s hard for the guys to accept the result today because we were very even, and I didna t think they created anything of any real note today.
a I think that both teams had pretty much accepted that the game was going to end in a draw, and I think we would have all been satisfied with that.a
He added, a We matched them toe-to-toe today; they have spent a lot of money during the summer and I didna t think that was evident at all given both sides performances.a