Bournemouth fought back to earn a point at Anfield last night, with Josh King the late hero for the south-coast side.
Liverpool had begun the game sluggishly, with passes going astray and Bournemouth seeming keen to take advantage.
Liverpool’s front three – Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho – combined well early on and won a corner that came to nothing, but then at the other end, Simon Mignolet held onto the ball for too long and only just managed to turn away from Benik Afobe.
Liverpool survived the first scare, but soon after, Gini Wijnaldum under-hit a backpass, and Afobe latched onto it and scored. The Red’s poor passing and indecisiveness had been punished.
Divock Origi had a shot from the edge of the area easily saved, but other than that, the immediate response from Liverpool was not the best. He later headed a corner over the bar too, but Bournemouth were relatively comfortable.
Afobe had another effort blocked at the last second by James Milner, with the resulting corner coming to nothing, and it was the away team causing most of the problems.
Josh King caused the Liverpool defence all sorts of problems with his pace, and he ran at Milner several times throughout the game. On the half hour mark, his pace saw him race past the Englishman and then Ragnar Klavan too, before powering a shot over the bar.
The Anfield crowd was beginning to get frustrated, but then Nathaniel Clyne broke inside and won a free-kick. The effort from Coutinho was hit marginally over the bar, when it looked to be heading into the top corner.
The equaliser was just around the corner, however. Firmino held off a challenge on the edge of the box, and squeezed the ball through to Coutinho, who slotted the ball past Artur Boruc. No Brazilian has scored more goals in the Premier League now than Coutinho, as he drew level with Juninho.
Liverpool won a free-kick in the final third just before half-time, but referee Lee Mason blew his whistle for the end of the first period before it could be taken, having delayed the taking of the kick himself by standing in front of the ball.
Immediately after half-time, the home side found some more urgency, buoyed by the equalising goal shortly before the break. Clyne moved forward from right-back with the ball and shot from just outside the box. Boruc got fingertips to it, before it crashed against the bar, preventing a goal for the full-back on his birthday.
The go-ahead goal arrived soon after that. Just before the clock moved onto sixty, Wijnaldum made up for his earlier error by lifting a cross into the path of Origi, for the Belgian to simply and powerfully head past the Bournemouth goalkeeper, into the Kop end net. Despite not playing particularly well, Liverpool had come from behind to lead.
Eddie Howe reacted straight away, replacing Jordon Ibe – who got a good reception from the Liverpool fans on his return but was completely ineffective during his time on the field – with Ryan Fraser, who caused Liverpool so many issues in the reverse fixture.
Jurgen Klopp responded by swapping Philippe Coutinho for Joel Matip, and switching to a back three; perhaps in an attempt to limit the threat Fraser posed. Such a defensive move with almost a third of the game to go seemed odd.
The Scotland winger brought on by Howe had less of an impact than he did coming off the bench at Dean Court, but it did not matter. Just when the game felt like it was fizzling out, Bournemouth created some chances and put Liverpool’s defence under pressure.
First, Fraser whipped a ball across goal that sailed through without anyone touching it, before Steve Cook had a chance to put in a long throw. The ball was cleared only as far as Harry Arter, who volleyed the ball towards goal.
It fell kindly at the feet of Josh King, who was allowed to far too easily by Klavan, and the Norwegian simply put the ball into the corner, away from the reach of Mignolet in goal. Bournemouth were level, and in truth it was nothing less than they deserved on the balance of play.
Four minutes of added time was not sufficient for Liverpool to go again, and the game ended in a tie. Once again, a performance against a rival was much better than a performance against a low-lying side just days later, a common theme this season for Liverpool.
The Reds now must go to Stoke and win, whilst Bournemouth are already safe from relegation.
Simon Mignolet, 7 – had little to do, but made some simple saves; some poor decision making at times and sent a few passes straight out of play
Nathaniel Clyne, 8 – celebrating his birthday, he very nearly had a goal from the excellent effort from distance; did very little wrong
Dejan Lovren, 7 – won the majority of the aerial battles, but looks a different player without Joel Matip alongside him
Ragnar Klavan, 6 – at fault for the equaliser, when he should never have allowed Josh King to turn in such a dangerous position
James Milner, 7 – another steady performance; struggled against King’s pace at times but generally coped quite well
Lucas, 6 – looked tired after his exertions on Saturday; not the type of game you really want him to play, when a more creative force is required
Emre Can, 7 – closed down well and showed superb energy levels, but lacked a final ball
Gini Wijnaldum, 7 – made up for his shocking backpass with an assist later on; generally less effective than in recent weeks though, and not at his usual level
Philippe Coutinho, 7 – good until he came off through illness; scored the equaliser at a vital time and looked lively on occasion
Divock Origi, 7 – scored what he would have hoped was the winning goal and held the ball up really well at times; seems to be coming into goalscoring form
Roberto Firmino, 5 – very poor apart from the pass for the first goal; well off the pace and seemed unhappy to be moved out wide to accommodate Origi through the middle
Joel Matip (65th minute sub.), 6 – brought on to protect the lead, which Liverpool failed to do; seemed a strange change to make by Jurgen Klopp
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