SoccerMatch Report

Liverpool go four points clear after storming comeback win over Luton

Ireland international Chiedozie Ogbene had given Luton the lead at Anfield as he scored passed Kelleher

Premier League: Liverpool 4 Luton Town 1

No excuses, Jürgen Klopp had said while reeling off his injury list for the visit of Luton. The statement looked in need of revision when Liverpool trailed after an uncertain 45 minutes against Rob Edwards’s enterprising side but, ultimately, no excuses were necessary.

Liverpool restored their four-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a storming second‑half display and the belief it will take more than injuries to derail their title challenge.

All problems are relative of course, and what Luton would give for an injury crisis that still left room for the Netherlands captain, Virgil van Dijk, his international colleague Cody Gakpo, Colombia’s finest Luis Díaz, and Harvey Elliott to score in a second successive 4-1 victory.

Luton’s fine first-half showing was long forgotten by the time the World Cup-winning midfielder Alexis Mac Allister delivered two assists in two minutes for the Dutch duo.


Liverpool’s lengthening list of absentees included Mohamed Salah and Darwin Núñez, who sustained hamstring and muscle problems respectively in the win at Brentford on Saturday.

The pair have not been ruled out of the Carabao Cup final but their chances are being assessed on a day‑by-day basis. Gakpo and Elliott took their places, enabling the latter to make his 100th appearance for the club. Elliott may get frustrated by his limited number of starts but he should take great consolation from being the fourth youngest player in Liverpool’s history to reach a century of games at 20 years and 323 days.

The centurion and Díaz were prominent in a lively, dominant start by Liverpool. There was little sign of their rhythm or confidence being disrupted by the number of enforced changes, although that crept into the display as the first half progressed.

Díaz was presented with an early chance when hesitation between the Luton ­defenders Teden Mengi and Gabriel Osho allowed Caoimhín Kelleher’s long ball to sail through to the Colombia international. The winger would have been through on goal but was unable to control first time and Mengi made a valuable interception. Luton’s defence would follow his lead repeatedly in the first half.

A sweeping reverse pass from ­Elliott sent Díaz clear for a second time but, having cut back inside Osho, he curled a shot wide. Mac Allister, Díaz and Elliott then combined to tee up Gakpo for an overhead kick that was steered into the arms of the Luton goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.

The visitors had shown flashes of ingenuity and bravery in ­possession by that stage, although no real ­attacking intent, but stunned Liverpool by taking the lead from their first genuine foray forward. A smart pass from Alfie Doughty found Cauley Woodrow inside the area, who laid the ball into the path of Tahith Chong. The former Manchester United ­player’s low drive struck the legs of Kelleher and looped up towards the back post where Ireland’s Chiedozie Ogbene was perfectly placed to head home from close range.

Luton’s composure on the ball and willingness to play through the ­Liverpool press was impressive. Their assured defending also added to ­Liverpool’s frustrations before the interval, although too many loose passes and rushed decisions from the home side also contributed to the unease inside Anfield. That all changed when, as is so often the case under Klopp, Liverpool re‑emerged for the second half with more conviction, more intensity and a willingness to commit more men forward. The visitors were immediately under siege and submerged by two goals in the space of two minutes.

Tyrone native Conor Bradley created a clear opening for Díaz with a brilliant run at the heart of the Luton defence but Mengi managed to block the shot. Instantly, Díaz came again and though his penalty appeals for a handball by Osho were dismissed by the referee, Andy Madley, and VAR, Liverpool soon had the release of an equaliser. It was a captain’s contribution from Van Dijk who steamed ahead of Ogbene at a Mac Allister ­corner and sent a stooping, unstoppable header past Kaminski.

Mac Allister was involved again when Liverpool edged ahead amid a pulsating atmosphere. A clever throw in from Bradley found the mid­fielder’s run behind the Luton defence. From his first‑time cross Gakpo steered another emphatic header into the roof of Kaminski’s net. The visitors’ keeper saved well from Bradley, Gakpo and Van Dijk as Liver­pool continued to pile on the pressure. It told when Andy ­Robertson, just off the bench, was first to a Luton clearance and his touch released Díaz in space on the left. The Colombian drifted away from Mengi with ease and put Liverpool’s return to the summit beyond doubt with a convincing finish inside the near post.

Elliott marked his landmark night with the fourth in the 90th minute. Jayden Danns, an 18-year-old forward introduced for his Liverpool debut moments earlier, sent Gakpo away with a fine ball. Mengi managed to halt the forward’s run only for ­Elliott to sweep the loose ball home. – Guardian

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