Controversial Christian Benteke goal gives Liverpool 1-0 win over Bournemouth
Liverpool beat Bournemouth 1-0 at Anfield on Monday night after a rather controversial Christian Benteke goal. The result leaves the Cherries near the bottom of the table in 19th place, above Sunderland only on goal difference. At the other end of the table, the Reds moved into the top four after their second win in as many games. They are now in third place with six points from two games.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Skrtel, Gomez, Milner, Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho, Ibe, Benteke
Bournemouth: Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, O'Kane, Gradel, King, Wilson
First half: Benteke goal stirs debate on new offside rule
Bournemouth almost scored their first goal in the Premier League when Tommy Elphick headed home from a corner kick as early as the fifth minute. But the goal was disallowed as the referee awarded the Reds a free kick after he deemed Elphick to have fouled Dejan Lovren in the process.
Liverpool then took control and seemed more assured on the ball and in possession. But they failed to make inroads into the box and struggled to complete passes in the final third as Bournemouth thwarted attack after attack in the first 15 minutes. In fact, Bournemouth seemed to be a threat only on set pieces as even Joshua King had a chance from a Max Gradel corner, but King’s header went high.
The Reds’ first real chance came in the 24th minute when Christian Benteke pounced on a loose back pass and gathered the ball outside the box. The Belgian forward let fly an effort from range, but his shot went off target, wide of the far post.
But he made amends two minutes later when he scored off a Jordan Henderson cross from a corner kick routine. There was a controversy over an offside decision where Philippe Coutinho seemed to be interfering with play (according to the new rules) when he tried to play the ball. But the flag stayed down and Liverpool took the lead as Bournemouth’s defensive line was easily breached with Benteke scoring his 12th goal in 13 EPL games.
Henderson then almost got on the scoresheet in the 29th minute when his first-time effort from a free kick looped over the players in the box but only managed to skim the crossbar as it went high. Bournemouth’s Eunan O’Kane then went into the referee’s book for a foul on Coutinho on a counter-attack in the 34th minute. The Brazilian midfielder then had the chance to double the lead with two minutes to half-time, but his quick side-footed effort in the box was well off target.
Second half: Both sides fail to get shots on target
Bournemouth started the second half the brighter of the two sides as they put relentless pressure on the Reds’ goal at the Kop end in the first five minutes. But their shots were either easily saved, blocked or off target. The Merseyside club then suffered a blow when Henderson had to be substituted due to an injury with Emre Can coming on and James Milner taking the captain’s armband. Lee Tomlin also replaced Joshua King in the 61st minute.
Liverpool then began to impose themselves with Milner coming close to scoring in the 54th minute, only to see his effort in the centre of the box from a low cross go wide of the post. But once again, Bournemouth surprised at the other end with a long-range effort from Matt Ritchie just missing the target in the 60th minute. Two minutes later, some neat interplay from Bournemouth saw O’Kane get into the box but the angle was too narrow to beat Mignolet.
The Cherries then conceded a free kick after an unintentional handball dangerously close to the box, but Liverpool failed to capitalize with the Coutinho’s shot not even getting past the assembled wall. Roberto Firmino then made his Anfield debut when he came on for Jordon Ibe in the 60th minute as he slotted in on the left side of the attack.
In the 73rd minute, Benteke was then released down the left flank on a counter-attack and he tried to set up Coutinho in a two-vs-two situation. But the midfielder’s poor touch led to a shot from the middle of the box that was blocked at the last second by the defender. That was the 23-year-old’s last chance to make an impact as he was substituted in the 81st minute with Alberto Moreno coming on while Bournemouth replaced Adam Smith with Max Gradel.
Liverpool had another chance to double the lead in the 90th minute when Benteke’s effort from a cross hit the crossbar although Boruc seemed to get a hand on it. Lallana tried to score off the rebound, but his effort was too high. Two minutes later, Moreno made a run into Bournemouth’s half and went past two defenders before being brought down near the edge of the box. The resultant free kick saw Milner try to score from range, but his effort was so poor that the shot went very wide.
However, Liverpool managed to hold on and claim all three points to remain unbeaten so far this season.