Liverpool picked up a vital semi-final first leg victory against Mark Hughes’ side. Here’s how we rated the Reds on the night.
Stoke 0–1 Liverpool
League Cup – Britannia Stadium – Tuesday 5th January 2016
Goals; Ibe 37
Simon Mignolet (out of 10) – 7.5
Another booking picked up for timewasting certainly won’t put a dampener on the Belgian’s impressive display on the night.
Saved superbly from Glen Johnson at the end of the first 45 after having little to do, and dealt dealt well with all that came his way in a more testing second 45, alert to danger, clearing his lines well and punching superbly under some later pressure.
Nathaniel Clyne – 7
Nothing spectacular on the night from the England defender, but as always, did his defensive job solidly to nullify a dangerous front line and offered some nice supporting runs at times.
Dejan Lovren – 7
Withdrawn after half an hour with a hamstring injury, but it was an impressive 30 minutes from the Croatian, who was aggressive in his defending on the front foot, made some excellent covering challenges and was dominant aerially.
Kolo Toure – 8
Starting in place of Mamadou Sakho, the experienced Ivorian did his job simply but impeccably at the heart of the defence on a big night.
Won plenty of headers, cleared his lines well and marshalled a makeshift defensive unit brilliantly using all of his 34-years’ experience.
Alberto Moreno – 7
The Spaniard enjoyed a decent night at the Britannia, solid in his defensive work and an excellent attacking outlet, especially first half.
Did really well to control the threat of Xherdan Shaqiri by defending aggressively forcing him back, alongside providing some good attacking support. Visibly tired as the game progressed, but did little wrong.
Lucas – 7.5
The experienced Brazilian deserves real credit for an excellent performance in particular when moved to centre-back.
Tidy enough and destructive in holding midfield before dropping into the defence where he won some important headers and tackles, including when Bojan was about to open fire at goal on the edge of the box.
Emre Can – 7.5
Another good performance from the young German, who always amazes with his displays of someone years older.
Provided a calm and composed figure in the middle of the park where he battled superbly and drove the team on alongside using the ball intelligently. Becoming a real key member of Klopp’s side.
Joe Allen – 8.5
Coming into the Reds midfield, the Welshman produced a Man-of-the-Match performance, outstanding in his work in and out of possession on the night.
Orchestrating play, Allen’s display was vital as he provided a key link between defence and attack, and his assist for Ibe’s winner was absolutely sensational (assuming it was meant!).
Pressed the game superbly, winning the ball back numerous times throughout relieving mounting pressure with his reading of the game, and when he’s in this kind of form he is a real real joy to watch.
Philippe Coutinho – 6.5
The Brazilian turned in a lively 17 minutes before being forced off with yet another hamstring injury, linking up nicely with compatriot Firmino and Moreno as he clearly benefitted from not having the static Christian Beneke ahead of him.
Adam Lallana – 7
One of three changes on the night, Lallana turned in a much improved display in the Reds attack on and off the ball.
Typically aggressive in his pressing work, the 27-year-old also played with more purpose in his game in possession and played a key part in Ibe’s match-winner with a great run and cut-back. More of the same needed.
Roberto Firmino – 7
It was a pleasing and frustrating performance in equal measure from Firmino in his role leading the line.
The Brazilian showed his class with some excellent link-up play, movement and defensive work as a nice mobile outlet up top, but his quality on the ball lacked, with his touch deserting him at key moments and shooting wayward.
Signs again that he’s starting to find his rhythm in a Red shirt.
Jordon Ibe – 7.5
Netted the all-important match-winner with an excellent left-foot strike, and provided a reliable presence on the left after coming on for Coutinho in the first half.
Impressed with the directness and intelligence of his play on the big occassion, and didn’t disappoint in his defensive work with the teenager doing a disciplined job to support Moreno.
James Milner – 6.5
Made an earlier comeback than expected after being introduced for Lovren, and did a simple but effective job on his return.
Provided good energy in midfield and used the ball well when Liverpool needed to kill building home momentum. Good to have him back as injuries mount.
Christian Benteke – N/A
The Belgian had little time to make an impact, but didn’t get through the amount of work expected of someone on to provide fresh legs.
Jurgen Klopp – 7.5
It was a good decision from Klopp to change shape to 4-3-3 with 4-2-3-1 struggling to bear fruits over recent games, and his selection within that was as good as the options at his disposal allowed.
Incredibly unlucky to lose another two players – plus concerns over Toure – to hamstring injuries, but adapted to the situation well making exactly the right substitutions and adjustments to the team as the game developed.
Set his side up to do the job, which they did superbly in difficult circumstances, capping off a good night all round.
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