Capital One Cup: Liverpool bags victory in the first leg of the semi-final despite injury woes
Liverpool will carry a one-goal lead into the second leg of the Capital One cup semi-final
With both teams coming off a defeat in the weekend, this match was bound to be interesting. The Merseysiders came out on the top, courtesy of a goal from Jordon Ibe.
The Stoke team had made no changes from the team which lost to West Brom over the weekend. While Liverpool made three changes to the team which lost to West Ham over the weekend. Kolo Toure replaced injured Sakho at the backline, Allen in midfield for Ibe and Lallana in for Benteke. With a cold windy night at Britannia stadium, it was perfect settings for a thrilling night.
Liverpool started brilliantly by pressing high up the pitch causing Stoke to make sloppy passes and create attacking chances. Firmino got an early chance when he picked up the ball 30 yards off and his shot forced a save from Butland. Seven minutes later Lallana tested the Stoke shot-stopper from a 25 yarder, but his shot was saved. As the half went Liverpool piled up the pressure on Stoke with corners and Firmino combined with Coutinho brilliantly to create chances. On the brink of the 18th minute, Coutinho pulled up with an injury, which looked like hamstring and was replaced by Jordon Ibe.
The pace of the game slowed down a bit and Stoke started to get their foothold in the game. Ibe looked dangerous but could not hit the target as he intended a couple of times. More bad news followed for Liverpool as Dejan Lovren picked up an injury in the 35th minute and got replaced by James Milner with Lucas playing as the centre-back for rest of the game. Three minutes later Lallana passed back the ball to Allen which fell perfectly for Ibe, who smashed the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the Stoke goal. A brilliant save by Mignolet and a goal line clearance from Lucas was needed in last minute to keep Liverpool in the lead.
Stoke brought on Jon Walters for Cameron at half time to inject some pace and energy into their side. The Potters looked more desperate to score the next goal by piling up the numbers and pressing high. In the 58th minute, Arnautovic almost found Shaqiri with a brilliant run, but Mignolet was alert to it. Liverpool looked dangerous on counter and Firmino missed the target on a couple of occasions. Ibe also found the side netting with 70 minutes almost gone.
In the 73rd minute, Mignolet became the first player to be booked for time wasting. Three minutes later Joselu who came on for Bojan tested Mignolet but the Belgian tipped the ball over the bar for a corner. As the half went on Stoke dominated possession but hardly troubled Liverpool defence. As three minutes of injury time was added, Kolo Toure hobbled on with a problem, what looked like a cramp. Finally, Liverpool held out against a strong Stoke side to take the lead and an away goal to Anfield for the second leg.