Liverpool have won their first game in September with a morale-boosting victory over Leicester City at the King Power.
A combination of Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and referee Anthony Taylor did their best to gift Leicester some points, but in the end Jurgen Klopp’s men held out.
Both sides started quickly and well, with the first huge chance of the game falling to Jamie Vardy, who forced a strong save from Simon Mignolet. The rebound fell for Riyad Mahrez to volley on his left foot, but the Algerian scooped it over the bar.
Less than five minutes later, Mo Salah had an even bigger chance, when Emre Can’s drive from outside the area cannoned off the post towards him. With an open goal and Kasper Schmeichel stranded, the winger could not convert, as he screwed an effort wide.
An opening goal was imminent, and it was Salah who made amends for the earlier miss when he headed home a Philippe Coutinho cross.
The Brazilian produced a trademark jink inside, before slightly over-hitting the cross to the far post, but Salah rose high and wrapped his head around the ball to force it home from a tight angle.
It had been a breathtaking and entertaining first 20 minutes, and more was still to come.
Alberto Moreno was fouled by Wilfried Ndidi on the edge of the area, and up stepped Coutinho to curl a peach of a shot into the top corner, bending his effort marvellously over the wall.
What better way to re-endear himself to the Liverpool fans than to produce a strike from the very top drawer to add to his earlier assist.
Even at 0-2, Leicester still knew Liverpool’s suspect defence remained there to be got at.
Shinji Okazaki, the hero on Tuesday night when Leicester knocked Liverpool out of the Carabao Cup, thought he had dragged them back into the game when he had the ball in the back of the net, but it was correctly ruled out for offside.
Harry Maguire, who headed the ball into his path, was clearly offside when the ball was played in to him, with the assistant right in line.
A couple of moments later, Okazaki did give his team a lifeline, but not without the help of the officials.
Vardy chased a long ball down the line, and when he saw goalkeeper Mignolet was going to collect the ball, went down very easily with little contact from Joel Matip, with referee Taylor giving a free-kick and booking the Cameroonian.
Liverpool dealt with the situation, but the ball went out for a corner. 90 seconds over the allocated stoppage time, the corner was allowed to be taken, with Okazaki pushing Mignolet out of the way when the cross came in.
Despite the clear infringement, neither the referee or assistant spotted a foul, and when the ball dropped for Okazaki to poke in, even he must have wondered why there was a lack of a whistle.
The striker may also have been offside, but Liverpool had three legitimate complaints even before discussing that.
At the break, Liverpool were relieved to be ahead, but still angry over the goal that should never have stood, denying them breathing space. There was more controversy to come.
Soon after the hour mark, after an even first few minutes on the second period, Matip made a superb block from a Vardy shot from close range to deny a certain goal.
Liverpool broke away with Daniel Sturridge, who had replaced Roberto Firmino with the Champions League game in Moscow midweek in mind, squaring to Jordan Henderson.
The Liverpool captain, who had an excellent game, took a couple of touches to set himself, before coolly slotting into the back of the net to make it 3-1.
The two-goal advantage, however, was not intact long.
A well-worked move found Demarai Gray on the right-hand side of the penalty area, and his volleyed effort was parried by Mignolet into the path of Vardy, who easily slotted in from close range into an unguarded goal.
There was just over a minute between the two goals, and Liverpool’s defence was made to look flimsy once more.
With their tails up after the goal, Leicester pushed hard for an equaliser, and were given every chance at scoring one by the referee.
Vardy, who has a very good record against Liverpool, got in behind Liverpool defence, but when Mignolet managed to slide in and take the ball, Taylor awarded a penalty.
On first viewing it appeared that the goalkeeper had touched the ball, and replays only confirmed that, but Taylor disagreed.
The Belgian stopper, though, made a powerful save, pushing away Vardy’s penalty kick, which was aimed straight down the centre of the goal. Justice was done.
James Milner replaced Emre Can as Liverpool looked to take back control, and the away side nearly restored their two-goal cushion with less than ten minutes left, as Sturridge’s shot was well saved by Schmeichel.
Leicester had one final chance from a free-kick given away by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had another less than memorable day coming off the bench, but Liverpool clung on.
It was a much-needed and well-deserved victory for Klopp’s side, and will give them confidence for a week involving a tricky away European tie in Russia followed by a visit to in-form Newcastle United.
Simon Mignolet, 7 – saved the penalty but made some odd decisions; his kicking was quite slow and often poor, but he got away with it
Joe Gomez, 7 – steady for the most part and coped well with Albrighton in every situation apart from the Vardy goal, when he was turned too easily in the build-up
Joel Matip, 6 – some poor clearances and decisions, although he was unlucky to give away a foul before the first goal; not his best day but still a class above his defensive partner
Dejan Lovren, 4 – had a shocking opening period including a simple pass that he smashed out of play for a throw-in; it never got much better as he looked nervy throughout, inspiring absolutely no confidence in his teammates
Alberto Moreno, 7 – very good in an attacking sense and beginning to look like an accomplished defender at the other end too; reliable – something he very rarely been
Jordan Henderson, 8 – some crisp passing and scored what was the winner; his best performance of the season so far and was vocal and commanding throughout
Emre Can, 7 – did well going forward and was a physical presence; taken off with Moscow in mind
Gini Wijnaldum, 5 – largely anonymous in what is becoming a trend for him; he needs to rediscover some form and fast, and not just in the big games
Mohamed Salah, 7 – scored the header from a difficult angle, but should have scored a much easier chance before that; he has six Liverpool goals so far, but it really should be double that
Roberto Firmino, 6 – relatively quiet but had a tough task against two bullying centre halves; outshone by his compatriot to his left
Philippe Coutinho, 8 – a quality free-kick and some dazzling dribbling; very close to his sharpest once again, which is extremely exciting
Daniel Sturridge (64th minute sub.), 7 – was a real threat and created the winner on the counter; looked sharp and ready and will be needed over the coming weeks
James Milner (74th minute sub.), 7 – a calming influence in a frantic match; an experienced pro who helped Liverpool over the line by keeping possession and doing the simple things well, as ever
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (79th minute sub.), 5 – did not do much again apart from give away a free-kick in a dangerous area; needs to find a settled position on the pitch and start to produce some performances
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