Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho turned things around for Liverpool
Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino both came off the bench to grab a goal each and give the kiss of life to the Reds’ Champions League chase.
Until then it had been the old, old story.
Bottom half of the table. Tick. On a losing run. Tick. Appalling defensive blunders. Tick.
Beat Liverpool. Tick.
And yet another goal for Jonathan Walters – of course!
Roberto Firmino grabbed the winner for Liverpool on 72 minutes
As Jurgen Klopp strode down into the dressing room he knew he had to gamble on the fitness of the two South Americans.
And they certainly had enough energy to inspire a remarkable comeback.
Coutinho cracked in a beauty with 20 minutes left and, within another three minutes Firmino had completed the rescue act with a stunning volley from Georginio Wijnaldum’s long ball over the top.
He didn’t even look up and met the dropping ball perfectly to leave the Potters shell-shocked and keeper Lee Grant picking the ball out of the back of the net again.
Some will hail it as another Klopp masterpiece – but you have to wonder what might have happened if he’s risked the pair of them from the off.
Liverpool fans fume at starting XI to face Stoke City
Sat, April 8, 2017
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Liverpool fans react on Twitter as the Reds announce their starting XI to face Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium (3pm)
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Liverpool fans are not happy about the starting XI to face Stoke City
Everton fan Walters, who was born on the Wirral, must really love playing against the Reds because he just can’t stop scoring against them.
And he’ll never have an easier touch for his seventh goal in 14 matches than his stooping header.
A chipped pass to Xherdan Shaqiri and even though he was making his first start in ten games there was no sign of rustiness as he swept past a feeble attempted tackle from Ragnar Klavan and picked out Walters all on his own, virtually in the six yard box.
And it could have been even worse if Saido Berahino and Marko Arnautovic had taken their first half chances.
The Austrian winger was on the receiving end of another of the countless presents that Liverpool defenders hand out almost every game.
Dejan Lovren completely misjudged his attempted clearance to put Arnautovic in the clear but he cracked his shot into the side netting with one half of the ground convinced it had gone in.
Firmino and Coutinho saved Jurgen Klopp's blushes
Saido Berahino and sub Charlie Adam were able to take pot shots but Simon Mignolet came to the rescue getting his knee to the one-time Kop star’s goalbound effort.
Firmino finally got a shot on target – after 56th minutes – but Lee Grant turned over the bar.
The re-shaped Reds got up a head of steam – Divock Origi fired a foot wide, Grant superbly denied Coutinho and Lovren got up high to see his header bounce off the bar in an incredible turnaround.
Stoke City: Grant 8; Johnson 7, Shawcross 6, Martins Indi 7, Pieters 6; Shaqiri 8, Allen 6 (Adams (27th) 6 (Ramadan (81st), Cameron 6, Arnautovic 6; Walters 7 (Whelan (68th) 6), Berahino 6.
Liverpool: Mignolet 7; Lovren 5, Matip 6, Klavan 5; Alexander-Arnold 6 (Coutinho (46th) 8), Milner 6, Can 7, Wijnaldum 6, Clyne 6; Woodburn 5 (Firmino (46th) 8), Origi 6 (Sturridge (68th) 6).