[dropcap]T[/dropcap]wo absolute stunners helped propel Liverpool past of Manchester City today, as the final score was 2-1 in favor of the Reds at Anfield. Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho were the goal scorers, as Edin Džeko’s equalizer in the first half was not enough for Manchester City, who, with a win, could have moved to within two points of Chelsea atop the table. Instead, they head back to Manchester empty handed, as Liverpool move up to fifth.
The real story of the match was the brilliant Coutinho. Early on, he was the one who stole the ball from Vincent Kompany to set up Henderson’s wonderful strike, facilitated through Raheem Sterling in the 11th minute. Then, with the match level at 1-1 in the 75th minute, Coutinho buried a magical, curling shot, again from an assist from Sterling.
Aside from his participation in both goals, Coutinho was magnificent in the midfield. After all, with Liverpool having five shots on goal, and Džeko’s goal being City’s only shot on target, this was a match played primarily in the middle of the field. Liverpool won the battle, with Coutinho outplaying everyone else on the field.
Along with Coutinho’s midfield performance, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson were as strong as they’ve ever been. Allen has been taking on a similar role that Lucas held before his injury, and, after a little adjustment period, he has found great form. He was flying all over the middle of the field, making strong tackles and great passes to get the attack moving.
Henderson, besides scoring his “wonder goal” was also great. He worked hard to keep David Silva and the rest of City’s midfield at bay. On the attacking end, he backed off after the goal a bit, but still played some nice balls to get Sterling, Coutinho and Adam Lallana moving.
As for the rest of the team, Sterling and Lallana were solid, and Lallana appeared to have scored on two different occasions, but both were negated by offside calls. Sterling’s pace troubled Manchester City’s defense, and although he didn’t find the back of the net, his two assists were a boost to the Reds.
The back three were solid, with Emre Can moving back to the right back position where, aside from being caught out of position on Džeko’s goal, he was assured in his performance. Martin Škrtel continues to be a rock in the back, and he put forth another good performance. Dejan Lovren was extremely shaky at the start, demonstrated by a clearance out of bounds when there was nobody around him. However, after that, he lost the jitters and played a strong game, as he was able to make a few tackles and his passing forward really helped the team on the attack.
Simon Mignolet was really not tested, other than the goal, which did deflect off of him. Regardless of whether or not he should have saved it, he managed to do everything he had to do to give Liverpool a win.
Today was the first time in a while that Liverpool have had to face a top-tier striker like Sergio Agüero, and they had their troubles with him. He managed four shots, including one that hit the post. With the opportunities he had, he probably should have cashed in on at least one or two to go along with his assist to Džeko. His performance should raise some eyebrows toward the Liverpool defence, as they’ll need to prevent players from dribbling through them like Agüero did if they want to finish in the top four.
Despite the tough time with Agüero, Liverpool pulled off an immensely important victory, putting them within two points of Manchester United in fourth place. It was evident that it was an important match through their emotion, as, watching Henderson and Coutinho celebrate their goals, it was clear how much the match meant to them. Hopefully they can carry that emotion along with their great form as they continue to fight through the Premier League. A few more tricks from the “little magician” Coutinho wouldn’t hurt either.
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