Liverpool ended a year they will remember with a night Wout Faes would love to forget. The usually assured Leicester defender scored a couple of ridiculous goals through Jurgen Klopp’s side for a lucky win and kept their momentum going in pursuit of Champions League qualification.
Brendan Rodgers’ side took the lead with an early Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall strike and were rarely bothered by Liverpool’s poor display until Weiss scored twice into his own net seven minutes into the first half. Both were easy to avoid and are destined to feature in classic Special Goals clips for years to come. The away fans chanted “3-0 to the Leicester Boys”, with some justification. It was one of their best performances on a night when they unleashed their pitiful “feed the pants” and “always victim” chants at Anfield again.
Liverpool were grateful to receive the Belgium international defender’s neglect. The hosts have been erratic in possession and slump, but find themselves two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham after a fourth-place finish in a row. Premier League victory. And with the promise that Cody Gakbo will come. New signing from PSV Eindhoven were in the crowd to see Darwin Nunez put in another impressive but wasted display, Trent Alexander-Arnold was impressive throughout the first half and Liverpool improved after the break without being punished by one of their many attractive openers.
Liverpool’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson placed a wreath of yellow and white flowers in the center of the circle before kick-off, in honor of Pele from both clubs. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson laid another wreath in memory of the club’s former striker David Johnson, who passed away last month.
Klopp tasked his players with starting with the same intensity and intensity that powered the win over Aston Villa on Boxing Day. Leicester’s early struggles were noted against Newcastle on the same day, when they found themselves trailing by two goals in the space of 10 minutes. But so much for the best laid plans. It was Leicester, who Rodgers called on a day off to analyze his Boxing Day failures, who was positive, strong and energetic from the whistle. They took the lead after four minutes when Dewsbury-Hall took full advantage of a tear in Liverpool’s central defence.
The Leicester midfielder had plenty to do after Harvey Barnes and Patson Daka combined to deflect Danny Ward’s shot into his path. He slipped around Henderson with ease and suddenly, with Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip lured out of position, a chasm appeared. Dewsbury-Hall duly ran through and slotted the winning goal past Alisson into the Cobb goal.
Liverpool was momentarily shocked. Their slowdown lasted longer. Klopp made one forced change from Villa’s victory, with Harvey Elliott replacing Fabinho, whose wife went into labor shortly before kick-off. The contrast in performance was stark, with Liverpool lacking cohesion and giving up possession so cheaply.
Lester lost Daka due to an early injury sustained when trying to close Alisson’s elimination. The striker was replaced by Jamie Vardy, who almost made an immediate impact when he broke down the right side and threaded a fine ball towards Barnes at the far post. Alexander Arnold flew in with a lively interception. From a corner kick generated by Ayoze Perez, the impressive Wilfried Ndidi was left unmarked at the back post but a deflection from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain turned his header wide.
Nunez tried to inject much needed danger into Liverpool’s display and Mohamed Salah came close after one loot by the Uruguay international. Otherwise Rodgers’ compact team was relieved. Enter Faes, and a truly inexplicable implosion.
Ward had already berated a Leicester defender for tipping him off at the near post when he came to collect the ball when Alexander-Arnold crossed into the same spot. The Leicester goalkeeper clearly shouted for the ball. Weiss didn’t listen, or didn’t trust his guard enough, and stick out his leg to clear the spot. He successfully sent the ball up and over Ward, who turned in terror to see the unfortunate clearance kiss just inside the far post and put Liverpool back level.
The home team’s luck and Weiss’ embarrassment didn’t end there. Minutes later, Núñez was played on goal with a clever touch from Oxlade-Chamberlain. The forward beat the advancing Ward with a superb shot that went wide and hit the post. Weiss was the first to arrive on the scene to clarify the matter. Cut at its top corner. It was a farcical and comical end to the first half, although no one from Leicester saw the funny side.
Kop shouted “shoot” whenever the Belgium international had possession in the second half but avoided an unwelcome hat-trick. Henderson came close to adding a third goal when he found it unmarked inside the area with a throw-in from Alexander-Arnold. Salah pulled a long shot poorly when played in by a superb angle from Nunez, who lifted an excellent chance over the bar of Ward when substitute Naby Keita found him in space. The Leicester keeper also denied Salah with a finger swipe after more selfless action by Nunez.
Leicester also had chances in the open second half. The best went to Dewsbury-Hall when he sprinted into another gap in the Liverpool defense and met Timothy Castagne’s cross only to have his header mispronounced. Seven amazing minutes from Faes cost them dearly.
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