Anfield, Liverpool, England
Liverpool’s introduction of their new redeveloped stadium got off to a perfect start as the Reds defeated Champions Leicester City 4-1.
In what was their first home game of the season; a goal in either half for Roberto Firmino and goals from Sadio Mané and Adam Lallana helped Liverpool inflict a second league defeat for last season’s Champions Leicester in front of 53,075 fans, the biggest since 1977. Jamie Vardy pulled a goal back for the Foxes before the break after some calamitous Liverpool defending, but it was only to be a consolation.
Leicester initially started brightly but it was the Reds who had the first sight of goal in the tenth minute when Firmino surged forward before he fired an effort that Kasper Schmeichel saved with ease.
However, three minutes later, the Brazilian wasn’t to be denied. Firmino received the ball from James Milner, cut-inside and fired across Schmeichel to put the Reds ahead.
In the 25th minute, Liverpool should have doubled their lead when Mané and Lallana exchanged a lovely one-two; allowing the former to pull the ball back to Daniel Sturridge whose effort was smothered by Schmeichel, although he really should have scored.
Six minutes later, Liverpool doubled their lead. Sturridge was played through and had just Schmeichel to beat but he unselfishly flicked the ball into Mané whose effort bounced into the net despite Schmeichel getting a big hand to it.
In the 38th minute, Leicester pulled a goal back through an absolute gift from the hosts. Simon Mignolet opted to play the ball out from the back and Lucas Leiva, under-pressure made a calamitous error; playing a poor pass across the face of goal to the waiting Vardy, who tapped home. Shinji Okazaki actually arrived in the area before the goalkick was taken, but the goal stood.
Two minutes later, Leicester nearly drew level when a throw-in from substitute Luis Hernández put Minolet under-pressure. The Belgian was caught in no man’s land and Robert Huth nearly capitalised; heading an effort that clipped the top of the crossbar.
Ten minutes into the second-half, Liverpool had a good chance to extend their lead when Firmino wonderfully played Sturridge in with a no-look pass, but the striker took a heavy touch and Schmeichel smothered the eventual effort.
A minute later, the Reds did extend their lead. Georginio Wijnaldum received the ball in the area, he had Firmino to his right but he chose to find Lallana, who rifled an effort first-time into the top-corner.
Two minutes later, Leicester had a good chance to pull a goal back when Riyad Mahrez played Vardy through on goal, he had just Mignolet to beat but the Belgian keeper smothered the effort.
In the 72nd minute, Leicester went close when a Hernández cross was met by Huth with a header but his effort drifted just wide of the far-post.
Two minutes later, they went close again when a Mahrez delivery from a corner fell to Danny Drinkwater on the volley but his deflected effort drifted inches wide of the far-post.
In the 78th minute, Liverpool should have made it four when Firmino pulled the ball back to Jordan Henderson but he somehow fired the ball over the bar from close-range, when he really should have scored.
In the 85th minute, Liverpool went close to adding a fourth when Mané found Firmino, who cut the ball back to Mané, whose eventual effort was palmed away by Schmeichel.
Four minutes later, Liverpoool made it four. After a Leicester corner was cleared, Liverpool broke with Henderson finding Mané who beat the onrushing Schmeichel to then find Firmino, who did well to control the ball and fire home into the unguarded net.
The result meant that Liverpool climbed up to fifth temporarily on seven points, whilst Leicester temporarily dropped to 15th on four points before the rest of the weekend’s games.