Stoke 0-1 LFC: Coutinho gives Liverpool the perfect start, and revenge

Liverpool go some way to avenging last season's final day defeat by beating Stoke City with a late late wonderstrike by Phil Coutinho.



The Brazilian had an indifferent game up until the 86th minute but he scored a trademark goal - a powerful strike from outside the box to ensure the reds left the Britannia victorious.

The game, especially the first half, had been low on quality.  It wasn't until the 63rd minute that Liverpool registered their first shot on target - a tame effort by Dejan Lovren.

Adam Lallana was named in the starting XI but you wouldn't have known it.  The England man was largely anonymous and the reds improved greatly when he was replaced just after the hour by Emre Can.

Can's addition enabled Henderson to push a little further forward - allowing Coutinho to find a bit more space and freedom.

Joe Gomez and Nathaniel Clyne were making their debuts at the back, new vice captain James Milner made his first competitive bow for the reds and Benteke also started.  Roberto Firmino came on for the final 15 minutes to make his debut too.

Liverpool collected four yellow cards in the game - most of them out of frustration. Gomez, Lovren, Milner and Skrtel all starting the season with their name in the FA disciplinary records.

Coutinho smashed one way over the crossbar in the second half, shortly after Martin Skrtel saw a header acrobatically saved.

But the winner was on its way.

In the 86th minute Joe Gomez found Coutinho, who spun past Glenn Whelan before unleashing his powerful curler.  Jack Butland in the Stoke goal became the latest in a growing list of Coutinho casualties.

The goal sparked delirium amongst the fans - many of whom will have been here just a few months ago.

The reds start the season, like the last, with a hard-fought victory and will host Bournemouth next Monday at Anfield.

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