BATTLING Liverpool return from Stoke City and their ASDA price dugouts with bags of character and a precious 1-0 lead after the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.
The victory was not without its cost, with both Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren succumbing to the curse of the banjoed hamstring. Big Kolo Toure was merely suffering with cramp, according to Jürgen Klopp.
But, as the saying goes, when the Reds win, we all win — and a backs-to-the-wall victory is always a good one.
Here is how they scored.
Simon Mignolet: 7
Quiet opening period with only a single catch from a cross to deal with until two minutes into injury time when the Belgian made a excellent stop from Glen Johnson’s well-struck shot from outside the box.
An extra half point for needling the Stoke fans throughout the second half, which eventually resulted in a booking for his troubles.
Good punch late on to clear a ball across away from the head of Peter Crouch.
Nathaniel Clyne: 6
Neat and tidy, as is now expected from the England international. Calm in possession and never flustered. Seemed to switch off a little between 45 and 60, and could have done better breaking into the Stoke area late on but a poor touch let him down and he ended up getting clattered.
Kolo Toure: 8
Man of the match. Immense from the veteran Ivorian. Good early interception set the tone and the 34-year-old centre back was strong, first to everything, positive and encouraging in testing circumstances against a forward line that has caused huge problems for other teams.
Couple of last-ditch headers and one massive diving block on 82 minutes topped off a heroic 94 minutes for Toure, who played the last 10 with only one leg.
Dejan Lovren: 6
Will be devastated to have to go off injured on 33 minutes after an encouraging half hour. Looked like he’d shrugged off the West Ham result and was back to his recent improved form.
Great tackle on Shaqiri that caused his injury.
Alberto Moreno: 5.5
Strange one for Albie. Aggressive in possession and safe enough in possession defensively, but doesn’t seem to be able to stop a cross to save his life. Much more conservative in the second half — so much so that it could only have been on the manager’s instruction.
Couple of decent early corners, too.
Lucas Leiva: 6.5
Invaluable experience from start to finish. Sat in front of the back four and showed composure and intelligence to take the ball off the back four and link with Joe Allen and Emre Can. Made a couple of important headers and interceptions when Stoke looked to get on the attack.
Dropped back in to cover for Lovren and didn’t do much wrong, one header in particular on 53 felt incredibly important, he followed that up with a great challenge two minutes later on Bojan.
Emre Can: 7
Strong showing from the matinee idol in midfield. Showed good physicality and set his stall out early with some strong challenges to win 50/50 tackles and headers. Neat and tidy in possession, can only remember one soft pass all game.
Lovely crossfield ball to Ibe in the second half, seems to be finding his range with the medium/long stuff. Seemed to consciously reassert himself in the last 10 with legs going all around him. Got the Reds over the line.
Joe Allen: 7
The fulcrum in the midfield triumvirate that dominated Stoke early on, always available for a pass and used possession well. Covered every angle of the pitch and pushed on well on occasion. Unlucky twice losing his footing when he had a good chance to develop play.
DEFFO meant the assist.
Adam Lallana: 7.5
Only a slight second to Kolo in the MOTM running.
Frustrates the hell out of me most weeks but was mustard today. Had an early sighter against Butland that seemed to give him confidence.
Showed great energy and effective trickery over the course of the game and put in two great crosses, one of which resulted in the goal. Calm in possession late on to limit the Stoke onslaught.
Philippe Coutinho: 6
Looked lively in an encouraging opening and might have done better on the quarter-of-an-hour mark when in a decent area. Looked sharper than last few weeks. Hopefully the injury won’t be too bad.
Roberto Firmino: 5
A funny one — looks elegantly shite. Involved in loads, won the ball in great areas twice only to fluff his lines and his timing of pass seems to be off — either that or his team-mates just aren’t on the same wavelength.
Works hard and puts himself about but can be awfully casual in possession. Could have scored a fluke when Butland cannoned the ball off him and looks the type to miss three sitters then score a worldie.
Want the lad to succeed desperately but looked way off it.
Jordon Ibe 6.5
Came on for Coutinho and duly lashed a wild one off target only to make up for it 10 minutes later.
Heard people say it was a bad touch for the goal but he adjusted well after Joe Allen’s gorgeous feint as the ball came to him at an awkward pace and angle.
Looked sharp in flashes but drifted in and out of the game and put us in massive trouble late on with a stupid dribble near the touchline.
Hopefully he can kick on and rediscover his early Klopp form.
James Milner: 7
Fantastic pass to Lallana for the goal under massive pressure after only being on the pitch for three minutes. Slotted in well to a Lucas-sized hole in the midfield for the most part and clever in possession.
Won a couple of pressure-releasing challenges late on, including one from a dangerous free-kick right in the heart of the 18-yard box.
Came on for Allen and did the job he was instructed to — held the ball up and won a couple of headers.
Pics: Propaganda-Photo–David Rawcliffe
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Is the Lucas rating a joke? The man was immense!
He’d better get use to that position,
Running out of centre halves.
Agree with Frankie though Joe Allen was my MOTM, just ahead of Kolo.
Yep, agreed. Allen top but Lucas and Kolo not far behind.
Fuck me, that’s got to be a first Brownie! :-)
Fine performance from the lads and no wind in sight, not from our lot or the usual swirl that comes in from the open corners of Stokes ground,
There are a few different types of brave in Fooball, the guy who never shirks a tackle even when his odds are poor has always impressed me (esp when he’s on your team on a Sunday morn) and the guy who always wants the ball no matter how he’s playing or how the crowd are reacting to him,
Firmino & Allen ain’t gonna win you many 50/50 and occasionally pull out of some but they do try and get on the ball,
I reckon Firmino in time will come good,
Decent touch and vision, just needs to acclimatise to the hurly burly of English football.
Never thought I’d be gutted to see fuckin Lovren (TM) get injured, shows how anyone is capable of turning around opinion,
Fair play to him.
All our strengths and weaknesses were on display tonight. We made a great start, but for all their industry Firmino had little to no end product and Lallana couldn’t spot a quick pass if it smacked him in the face. Can made his usual good runs but held the ball too long. None of them played badly, indeed they played quite well, but attacking players need end product.
Good to see Benteke putting himself about at the end. He needs to up his game ‘cos we were much better without him. Can’t back Neil, Sean and Ian on this one.
That forward line would be immense with Sturridge up top.
Is there a future for Lucas at CB? He was very good tonight.
Would love Lucas/Sakho as Mascherano/Pique, but in this league…
Saying that Lucas is probably gonna have to start there against Exeter and I’m okay with that tbh.
Excellent performance under the circumstances. I would say these ratings are harsh – I’d mark up Clyne, Moreno, Lovren, Kolo, Allen and Firmino up by one, Lucas up by two.
Mental injury situation. Hope the kids are up for a game Friday. Really hope at least one of Lovren or Sakho is back for Arsenal. Striker would be nice too
Delighted with that. The first half an hour was a little like the City performance minus the two goals. Stoke were utterly straight-jacketed. Few thoughts on some of ours:
Clyne really is a defender’s defender. Can be Klopp’s first choice there forever.
Toure was a man mountain and his experience really showed.
Lucas brilliant. That one tackle on Shaqiri/Bojan first half near the left hand side of our box was so powerful you could hear the thud. Surprisingly unruffled when he dropped back.
Can plays like he’s an adult in an under 17s game at times, holding players off using just his upper body. There was one occasion first half where a Stoke player attempted to burst through with Can on the half turn, and Can simply eased him off the ball. Great stuff.
Allen was my MOTM and definitely meant the pass to Ibe, regardless of anything the media report. He is the kind of player to do that anyway. Lovely, understated performance. What a pass to spring Coutinho first half.
Milner slotted in nicely and his round the corner pass for Lallana oozed experience.
Lallana is very much suited to the way we play when on form. All work-rate, intelligent runs and tricky turns. Decent effort early on. The guy can really shoot yet rarely goes for goal.
I felt Firmino played really well tonight. Vastly improved. Didn’t hide and used it well in tight areas. The telepathy with Coutinho was back as well. Has the potential to enrage – witness his indecisive moments in both halves – but he is going to get goals with more performances like that one.
Firmino looks so confused as to whats going on
Apart from all the early interplay with Couthino getting us a foothold upfront and marking Stokes card that we carry a threat.
What a match! Never mind the spirit of Dunkirk, If you own a kit get it on and get on the pitch and help the lads out. Who said this team had no fight or guile or determination or belief or gnarl or leaders or pace. Rodgers has assembled some squad here. Despite all the injuries we put a team out that won in that manner. Just goes to show how good our transfer committee have been. I’ve been telling people for years about Lucas. Absolutely brilliant tonight especially at centre half. We can win the league if we get a little run under our belts. A treble of cups too. Lovren may well have been MOM if he hadn’t got injured, he’d started well. And Mignolet with all that time wasting. Crucial save on half time. Can’t believe some people wrote them both off. For me,tonight though, one word JoeAllen. What a pass for the goal. In the same way I’ll probably come to the attention of the optimist police, I was straight on Twitter after the game playing the role of barrister for the defence over the assist. When I saw him on the teamsheet I felt some nerves. It’s not just on here I defend him. I’m worse with my mates cos they hate him. I felt the pressure leading up to kick off. He was like a cross between Beethoven and Stevie Wonder tonight in that I believe he was a piano player rather than a carrier but it’s almost like you don’t see or hear him. An invisible man but really in tune. Crucial for getting us on the front foot and keeps the ball well and closes down quick. Obviously, Stoke would push at the end but I felt we lost some control when he went off. Now, I’m not one to get carried away and I accept we have a match at Anfield first but we could be going to Wembley with Klopp. Haha, what a buzz that will be against either City or Everton.
Allen has had more excellent performances for this club than he’ll likely ever get recognised for. The 0-5 at Spurs is one, though it’s understandable given what a result that was, but it just goes to show.
He’s only just finished counselling for that open goal miss in the Derby a few years back also,
So relieved when Ibe read his shot/faint from 4 yards,
That Jordan’s been watching his vids the clever clogs.
Controversial one but I think Allen has a look and half means that assist. Maybe it’s my bias in liking to praise him because everyone slags him off. It’s a bit like their little muscle head’s goal at Goodison last week where it’s 50/50 but you give him the benefit of the doubt because it comes off great.
It’s not controversial mate. It’s clear as day. I’ve just posted the evidence in reply to Derek but it’s awaiting moderation. Watch his feet. They’re deft like a ballerina. If he’s shooting then he’s miss hit it and he loses his footing.
Aye, he’s been consistently good in big games too. Outplayed Yaya a couple of times. Wasn’t he a playmaker at Swansea? Their fans have always maintained he’s a better player than we’ve seen. Let’s hope we’re beginning to see the real Joe Allen under Klopp: the pass to Sturridge against Southampton and that lovely through ball to Coutinho (?) tonight. Thought the assist was meant too.
Does he pull out of 50/50s? I know Firmino’s been guilty but I’m not sure Allen does.
Ha ha, brilliant Robin, football eh,
Makes gobshites of us all,
I was posting that this lot came across as windy early on in another TAW article and then they do a sort of Pulis on Stoke, the irony,
You keep sticking up for Pirlo (I like him also but he defo meant to score) and I’ll keep backing up Firmino.
Derek, Derek, Derek, you can’t be serious. Apologies to TAW, I don’t like posting links away from their site but you’ve forced my hand Derek.
Look. Exhibit A. He runs in, he has a look at Ibe twice and see’s him going to the far post. Allen did what any good footballer would do and went for the front. There’s no question he spotted Ibe.
Exhibit B. Picture yourself in that position. If you want to play that pass how do you shape your body? Open it up and let it run along you. Watch after he’s played the ball. He’s peeling away from Ibe. He hasn’t lost his balance. He’s perfectly composed. He’s just layed it off. If you go for the shot he ends up either going forward or if he peels off he’s stumbling from the miss.
Are you havin it or not?
I’m having it. I’m a believer. My moment of the season because it’s taken me hours to twig. J’allen making me think, the little head worker.
I’m not a big fan of Joe, although I don’t mind him. I have to say it looked like a deliberate pass to me.
I remember Sherringham doing an almost identical one for England to set up Shearer against the Dutch in EURO 96. Was lauded as a genius feint and pass.
Allen should get the same plaudits.
From Liverpool fans? Not gonna happen mate. They’d rather crucify him
First vine was deleted and ithe second one is inconclusive!!
Assist of the season so far if meant,
His ball to Studge in the last round was tasty also mind,
Sure to get crucified for the next header he doesn’t win all the same,
Hope Klopp bigs him up.
After watching the clip a few times on Neil’s review I have to concede here and admit he meant it,
I’m the one who obviously is still not over that Derby miss.
You got there in the end, mate. Well done!
I did eventually and it might just end my night terrors over that Derby miss,
My little fella (5 at the time) said I frightened him with my strop when that chance at Goodison went begging,
It wasn’t just the miss it was the fact I’ve always tried to defend him in arguments with people,
Feel like calling all the fuckers today saying “did ye spot that assist”!
You change your opinion as often as you change your Bill Grundy’s
I was joking you fuckin bellend.
Of course old Father Time only had cramp (yeah, his best game for us since against these at the start of the season. No, not this one. *That* season).
Big Emre’s finest game at center mid for us I thought. Absolutely awesome and MoM. Wasn’t brain dead at any point which he can be prone to. Good decision by Klopp to move Lucas back there and keep Can where he was excelling.
A couple of points on Stoke:
– Not as good as the likes of Palace because they need a Cabaye supply line in midfield to take it off the center backs and get it into the talented attackers quicker. The likes of Whelan are still very Pulis and easily pressed (Cattermole syndrome under Poyet. A battler but just not good enough to actually play).
– The kip of Mark Hughes getting his suit soaked in the first half rather than just popping a club coat on. Glen Johnson wearing number 8… What’s going on there? Disqualify them with immediate effect. We shouldn’t even have to play this second leg.
Hughes looked ridiculous. Soaked to the skin and swearing at the ref every couple of minutes. He wasn’t happy. Probably thinking about his knackered suit…..
Ha ha, i was thinking the same about his suit, Steve McLaren has ruined it for any manager trying to stay dry.
…Ahem…(apropos my comments elsewhere yesterday) and so we won after all. Yay!
Perhaps the entire panel on the last TAW blog (after West Ham) all of whom said we would Lose tonight, can now take a breath before allowing their disappointment to cloud their judgment.
P.S. 6 for Lucas is an insult to his magnificent performance, the .5 just makes you look foolish
Onwards and upwards :)
SIX POINT FIVE!
Proper loved seeing Kolo getting everyone going when Lovren was injured. He’s the happiest bloke in world and I’d love a night on ale with him.
Genuine disappointment when Lovren got injured…….never thought I’d see that! Hope he comes back soon and playing the same way.
Pirlo was class in the middle, man of match for me. Let him play on Friday to carry on form.
Allen also seems like the nicest lad to have ever played the game. Possibly to have ever lived. He’ll probably claim he didn’t mean the assist, or that it wasn’t even him, out of sheer politeness.
Lucas Leiva, bless him, has been in the best three of our players in just about every game he’s played this season. And yet he doesn’t even appear on the clubs rather ordinary club calendar for 2016. Yet another season where the club hierarchy subtlely and not so subtlely showed it would rather he left. Makes you wonder…
Mate, I’ve just thrown out 2015’s. Still trying to get over The Nature Boy Ric Lambert in last season’s yellow effort for December. He looked resplendent and really added to my Christmas build up.
Great for me to see was as Kolo hobbled to go up field, Can came over, embraced him, a head hug, so to say, as if meaning, way to go “old man”…..
Team IS together! Klopp has given the lads a belief, hopefull as the season goes on and into next we can keep it and move forward, I see no reason not to!
Brilliant display and result!
The Welsh Xavi!
We all dream of a team of Kolos….that was his Carra moment tonight.
What a crock of crap. No mention that Lucas played most of the match at centre back? brilliantly I might add. Joke ratings
“Dropped back in to cover for Lovren” erm…..
“Dropped back in to cover for Lovren and didn’t do much wrong…”
What a crock of crap. Joke comment.
Jeez will people lighten the f*ck up on the ratings.
Just want to say that I think Firmino’s slowly getting there. Really encouraging to see the positions he took up and the way he created space for himself in tight areas. Shooting needs a bit of work, but I see him being a really important player for Klopp in the next couple of seasons if he can find a free role for him in this team.
A funny one – looks elegantly shite – class! He looks clueless; as if hes played cricket all his life and has been handed a football kit to ‘put on’. I do hope he improves but Jaysus he was poor.
I’m now in a place where I actually hate Roberto Firmino.
Oh, why? He’s only been here 6 months. It’s taken me 8 years to come to the conclusion that I actively want to see the back of Skrtel.
Firmino was alright. If that performance hadn’t been preceded by the previous four or five from him and he played like that every match we’d be happy. It’s just the context of the recent games where he’s been utterly appalling that has left him with ground to make up. But no doubt we were more fluid and cohesive with him on rather than Ben up front.
Great performance from pretty much everyone, with ‘George’ Lucas, Kolo and Can the standouts, along with Allen, who was immense.
I don’t think Allen meant the pass but it doesn’t really matter.Hes lucky we were 2-0 down at West Ham as his miss was as bad in the Derby.Still he played well last night and I like him anyway,woukd just love him to stay fit and get a good run in the team,but it’s probably his turn to do his hamstring next.Lucas should have had an 8 last night,I thought he was great.Even Moreno (who I don’t like)had a better game than a 5.5.
Toure was also great surprisingly and I hope he did only have cramp,but it looked worse than that.
You need a very intelligent football brain to make that pass . Unfortunately the Welsh spanner doesn’t have one
To give Lucas 6.5 thought gibbo was rating not your best andy. Lucas was my mom alongside kolo must agree milner best game this season cant be critical of any one
Rating for Mr. Andy Heaton of TAW:
FOUR POINT FIVE!!! (for being extremely ‘thrifty’ about the scores on such a happy occasion : -)
Attention: Mr. Robin Crimes (or shall I call you Robbie, just Rob or Bobby?)
Thank you for always speaking up for me through these past many months. I was nearly in tears when I saw that you made such an effort to prove I really meant that assist for Ibe.
Just to show my appreciation and love for such a special fan like you, Bobby, I have have booked a table for just the two of us for candle-lit dinner at ABC Steak House followed by an all-nigh private time in the King’s Suite of the same XYZ hotel.
To make our evening even more special for you, Bobby, I will bring an 8-hour worth of video highlights of all my matches during Sweasea days, with Wales national team and Liverpool, so just the two of us can watch video and discuss about my football till dawn.
I look forward to meeting you on ??? evening.
p.s. I hope you like the 100 red roses that I have sent to your office.
(Robin, Cheers…. just having a good mood after excellent win last night. : -)
Haha, did I ever tell you Joe used to stay at my sister in laws regularly when he played for Haverfordwest? Now you know. I actually think he’s wank at football.
that’s “insider info”…haha.
and you have been there done that already…cheers.
DEFFO meant the assist. Absolutely. Two pieces in The Guardian today on the match by Daniel Taylor and Jamie Jackson talked about a mishit shot. Who knows what they were watching. Fools.
If that pass had been by Neymar, it would have been running constantly for weeks. But Joe Allen? I suppose he didn’t mean that pass to Sturridge against Southampton, too.
For me, those were two of the best individual performances of the season. Strange that he remains so low on the pecking order. I’m struggling to remember any 8 of 10 performances from Milner.
I’d love to see a 4-3-3 with Coutinho-Firmino-Lallana and Allen-Can-Henderson behind them. That’s a fluid, aggressive, intelligent side midfield that can magnify the strengths of each other through their ability to work as a collective unit pressing and interchanging passes.
I’m thinking Spurs 5-0. I’m thinking that a lot.
Add Flanagan-Sakho-Lovren-Clyne and we’ve got something that can sparkle. And that’s before Sturridge is fit.
Allen-Can-Hendo or Lucas-Allen-Hendo will work well too. (or any combination of those four plus Milner).
Lucas-Allen-Hendo works because Lucas always works well at the base of 3 with two runners and “forward carriers” ahead of him — Allen and Hendo (or Milner and Hendo) or (Can and Hendo, etc).
One point to note is:
1. I notice that Lucas, under Klopp, is playing so many forward direct passes (which is good; and this moves the ball forward much faster: and definitely it is Klopp’s influence to take risk, but attack)…
2. Hendo seem to have used his time out with foot injury for good use: he must have spent hours studying how some great cross-field passes: including Gerrard’s style, and I won’t name some rival players here : -)…because in the few matches he has played since he came back, his cross-field passes were outstanding — well timed and opened up the play to a good effect. Hope Moreen can utilise the wide open space more.
3. I would prefer front 3 made up of two from the Three Tenors of Phil/Firmino/Lallana and lead by Sturridge (and of course Origi/Ings as Plan Bs).
Thought Kolo automatically gets 10s ? Gibbo Always gives him a 10 purely for being Kolo !