Anfield, Liverpool, England
Liverpool moved into third in the Premier League after defeating Arsenal 3-1 at Anfield in Liverpool in what was the Reds’ 50th home victory over the Gunners in the league.
Goals from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané gave the hosts a 2-0 half-time lead. However Danny Welbeck pulled a goal back for the visitors 11 minutes into the second-half before Georginio Wijnaldum sealed the victory for the Reds with a late-strike following a swift break.
The hosts started well and found the opener after just nine minutes after Mané’s teasing delivery found Firmino, who took a touch before firing the ball home.
The Reds went close to a second in the 28th minute when Philippe Coutinho forced Petr Čech into a fine save, with the Czech keeper palming the ball over the bar after referee Bobby Madley played the advantage following a foul on Wijnaldum.
In the 39th minute the hosts doubled their lead when good initial Liverpool play was finished-off by Mané, who drilled the ball home following a nice pass from Firmino.
Four minutes later the Reds should have extended their lead when Adam Lallana’s deflected-effort fell to Coutinho, who expertly controlled the high ball and had just Čech to beat, but his effort was instinctively saved well by the Arsenal keeper.
Alexis Sánchez, who started the match on the bench, was brought on at half-time and his introduction brought Arsenal into life. Two minutes into the restart the Chilean’s teasing delivery was met by Olivier Giroud, whose header was palmed onto the woodwork by Simon Mignolet before the Belgian gathered the loose ball.
In the 56th minute the Gunners pulled a goal back and Sánchez was involved yet again: playing Welbeck through on-goal. The striker had just Mignolet to beat and dinked the ball home past the keeper and the retreating Ragnar Klavan on the line to give Arsenal hope.
In the 75th minute the Reds should have made it three when Coutinho’s inch-perfect freekick was met by Jöel Matip, but he miscues his header and his effort is easy for Čech.
In the 82nd minute the hosts very nearly made it three when a James Milner freekick was met by substitute Divock Origi, who headed the ball against the post with Čech beaten.
In the first of three additional minutes, Liverpool made it three. After Matip blocked a Sánchez strike, Liverpool broke with Lallana, who picked the eye-of-the-needle pass to find Origi, who squared the ball across the face of goal to Wijnaldum, who fired home past Čech.
The result meant that Liverpool leapfrogged Arsenal and Manchester City to move into third on 52 points whilst Arsenal dropped to fifth before the rest of the weekend’s matches.