Lookman’s strike sees Leicester beat wasteful Liverpool

Salah’s early penalty miss proves costly as Liverpool lose second game of season

 Leicester’s Ademola Lookman celebrates scoring the winning goal against Liverpool. Photograph: EPA

Leicester’s Ademola Lookman celebrates scoring the winning goal against Liverpool. Photograph: EPA

 

Leicester 1 Liverpool 0

For the second time in 72 hours, Manchester City could enjoy the result in a Leicester game. The side with most to celebrate, however, were Leicester themselves. In adversity, short of players or time to prepare, fielding a makeshift defence, fresh from a hammering, they contrived to inflict just Liverpool’s second league defeat since March.

City could be 12 points clear before Liverpool play again and Jürgen Klopp could rue the rarity of a spurned penalty by Mohamed Salah and an egregious miss by Sadio Mané.

For Brendan Rodgers, however, there was vindication the moment Ademola Lookman, the substitute he only introduced two minutes earlier, struck. It required an outstanding performance from Kasper Schmeichel, but Leicester secured the finest result of their decidedly mixed campaign.

Rodgers had deemed the schedule “ridiculous” but was still able to make five changes. Some of the culprits in the 6-3 thrashing at Manchester City were demoted, the pack reshuffled and a diamond midfield selected. Even with Youri Tielemans rested, he still named five players who are central midfielders by trade. Wilfred Ndidi, deemed unfit to feature at Manchester City, lined up in defence, Jannik Vestergaard dropped even as Leicester’s three best centre-backs were all sidelined.

Ndidi and Daniel Amartey were instead charged with stopping Liverpool and Rodgers’ faith in the defensive midfielder to do a defender’s job seemed misplaced when Leicester, who conceded two penalties at the Etihad on Sunday, gave away a third in as many days.

A clumsy Ndidi kept stretching until he tripped Salah. The Egyptian had not missed a Premier League penalty since 2017, but he passed up a hat-trick of opportunities to put Liverpool ahead. Schmeichel parried the penalty back to Salah, whose header looped on to the bar. That also rebounded to him but he couldn’t connect cleanly.

While that put Schmeichel in a select band with Huddersfield’s Jonas Lössl, the only other goalkeeper to save a Salah penalty in the Premier League, he had little time to bask in the achievement. He denied the Egyptian again, arguably with a finer save, when he tipped a rising effort over. Before that, he had to react smartly to prevent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross from creeping in when Jordan Henderson had attempted to apply a finishing touch.

Liverpool had assumed the initiative, but Leicester possessed a counterattacking threat. Unsurprisingly, it revolved around Jamie Vardy. The scorer of two first-half goals against Liverpool in last week’s Carabao Cup tie could have repeated the feat. His first opportunity was snuffed out in unflustered fashion by Virgil van Dijk.

Joël Matip then had to produce a last-ditch intervention to block a Vardy shot. The veteran turned provider on a third swift break, darting past Kostas Tsimikas and sliding in James Maddison. Trent Alexander-Arnold retreated to hack his shot off the line. Nevertheless, Leicester, 4-0 down at half-time on Sunday, could savour the sensation of parity at the break here.

The scoreline was a sign Leicester had become better organised. As Rodgers sought to congest the centre of the pitch, it meant the space was on the flanks. Tsimikas was able to advance unopposed a couple of times, though Liverpool missed the dynamism the suspended Andy Robertson would have offered and there were times when his understudy struggled to provide the final ball.

If Liverpool looked more reliant on the right-sided trio of Alexander-Arnold, Henderson and Salah to provide a threat, it also reflected the drop in Mané’s form. The Senegalese had a glorious chance to score a first goal in nine games but spurned it. Sent clear by Diogo Jota, he angled his run to evade Timothy Castagne but blazed his shot over the bar.

The importance of the miss was soon apparent. Rodgers made a double change, summoning Lookman and Tielemans. The former Everton winger Lookman scored on Sunday and did so again here, collecting the ball on the halfway line, exchanging passes with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and racing forward to beat Alisson.

Klopp brought on Roberto Firmino, putting all four of his main forwards on the pitch at the same time. Leicester concentrated still more on defence, leaving Vardy alone in attack as Marc Albrighton was introduced to make it a back five while Liverpool set up camp in their territory. They scarcely troubled Leicester in the 20 minutes after Lookman struck as they looked disjointed.

Then Salah hooked a volley wide of Schmeichel’s goal. Jota came closer with a header from Alexander-Arnold’s corner. Van Dijk drilled a low effort that Schmeichel repelled at his near post. The pressure felt unrelenting but Leicester were defiant as they held on. They deserved to. - Guardian

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