Stoke City 0-1 Liverpool: Ibe gets the goal but injury problems continue

League Cup Semi Final 1st Leg
Tuesday 05 January 2016 - 8:00 pm
Britannia Stadium
Stoke City0
1Liverpool
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37'Ibe
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Liverpool suffered some injury setbacks but got what could be a helpful first leg lead in the League Cup semi final.

The reds are chasing their 9th League Cup which would extend their record and they were impressive in the first half - despite a double injury setback - as they sought to exorcise the demons of the weekend's defeat at West Ham.

Benteke was named as a sub with Lallana coming in to replace him in the side.

With Sakho out injured, Kolo Toure got the nod to partner Dejan Lovren.

The reds started in a more aggressive and attacking mood.  Sharp interplay up front had replaced the stasis seen in recent games.

Injury blow

However in the 18th minute Coutinho fell to the floor clutching his hamstring.  The reds already have a number of players out with hamstring injuries, although by full time Coutinho's hamstring injury didn't look as serious as the likes of Skrtel who had sustained a torn hamstring that will see him out for at least a month.

Coutinho suffered a similar injury in November.

Dejan Lovren also was substituted a short while later - same injury.  Lovren himself has also only recently returned to the starting line up.  Such has been the reds injury problems of late that possibly both are suffering from time out followed by a rapid reintroduction into the squad - and Liverpool's fixture list of late has been punishing.

There appears to be little let up either - with the weekend's FA Cup game moved forward to Friday night - all the way on the South coast.

Goal arrives

Back to the game, and despite these setbacks the reds grabbed an important goal in the 37th minute.

Lallana beating the offside trap and powering down the right wing, his ball sent across to Joe Allen who was alert to Jordon Ibe's run and played in the pass - allowing Ibe to score again - the League Cup is becoming his 'thing'.

Second half and Stoke brought on Jon Walters and they brought on a new spirit.

They were full of attacking intent and purpose in this half but where they broke through Everton 4 times a couple of weeks ago - Liverpool remained resolute.

Lucas Leiva had switched back to central defence and both he and Toure coped admirably with a far more demanding second half.

On the bright side James Milner made his return from injury, admittedly playing longer than Klopp may have planned due to the first half injuries.

Towards the end Kolo, the only fit first team centre-back, also clutched his thigh but the Liverpool boss suggested post match that this may have been more cramp than the dreaded 'string.

So Liverpool take a small lead back to Anfield - the second leg is at the end of the month.

Before then some blockbuster Anfield Premier League games and yes, this FA Cup game on a Friday night.  It would be understandable if Klopp surveyed the scenes at Melwood tomorrow and considered which of his youngsters will be on the coach to Exeter.

Stoke NIL Liverpool ONE.

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