Liverpool strolled to a 4-1 win over Stoke City on Sunday, with second-half substitute Divock Origi scoring twice at Anfield.
Liverpool 4-1 Stoke City
Premier League – Anfield – Sunday 10th April 2016
Goals: Moreno (8′), Sturridge (32′), Origi (50′ & 65′); Bojan (22′)
Jurgen Klopp made seven changes to the team that drew 1-1 at Borussia Dortmund on Thursday, with next week’s Europa League quarter-final second-leg the reason for that.
Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel came in for Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho, while Joe Allen and the returning Kevin Stewart replaced Emre Can and the injured Jordan Henderson in midfield.
Sheyi Ojo was given his first ever Liverpool start, in what was a proud afternoon for the 18-year-old wide man, while Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge also started at Anfield.
The only Reds players to retain their places were the quartet of Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno and James Milner.
- First league starts for Stewart and Ojo
- First goal of the season for Moreno
- Two for Origi, one for Sturridge
- Milner registers 9th and 10th assists of 2015/16
Bojan fired an early long-range shot well wide of the target, but it was Liverpool who had all of the ball in the opening exchanges.
In the eighth minute, the Reds were ahead. Moreno drilled an emphatic shot into the corner from distance, in what was the Spaniard’s first goal of 2015/16.
Stoke managed to work their way into the game a little as it progressed, but they continued to offer almost no attacking threat. In fact, it was a match lacking chances in the opening 20 minutes.
Mark Hughes’ side were level midway through the first-half, however. Bojan headed home completely unmarked from a free-kick, in what was yet another soft set-piece goal conceded by Liverpool.
Shortly after, former Red Peter Crouch had a header ruled out for offside, as the visitors enjoyed a decent spell at Anfield. Sturridge shot just wide from 25 yards.
With 32 minutes on the clock, Liverpool were back ahead, with Ojo playing a key role. The youngster skinned Xherdan Shaqiri down the left, before crossing delightfully for Sturridge to head home.
Ryan Shawcross had a good chance to once again level the scores before half-time, but fortunately, the centre-back couldn’t turn his effort into the net.
Liverpool led 2-1 at the interval.
Ojo was replaced by Thursday’s goalscoring hero Origi at half-time, which was something of a surprise given the youngster’s first-half showing.
Origi made a perfect start, heading Milner’s corner into the Kop net to give Klopp’s side real breathing space on Merseyside.
Firmino almost scored a freak goal soon after, with the Brazilian’s charge-down of Eric Pieters’ clearance seeing the ball loop just over the crossbar. Mignolet then thwarted Geoff Cameron from close-range.
A stinging Firmino strike was kept out by Stoke goalkeeeper Jakob Haugaard, while Origi missed a glorious chance to get his second, following wonderful play from Sturridge.
Origi scored a cross-cum-shot midway through the second-half, cutting in from the left, as Liverpool began to run riot against an increasingly insipid Stoke outfit.
The rest of the game was so laid-back and one-sided that you or I could have held our own in it, as the Reds earned three much-needed points in the Premier League.
Liverpool’s victory lifts them above Stoke into eighth, as they look to finish as close to the top-four as possible in the remaining weeks of the campaign.
TIA Man of the Match: Divock Origi
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Toure, Skrtel, Moreno, Allen (Lucas 78′), Milner, Stewart, Ojo (Origi 46′), Firmino (Lallana 63′), Sturridge.
Subs not used: Ward, Lovren, Coutinho, Smith.
Stoke: Haugaard, Bardsley, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters (Muniesa 82′), Imbula, Cameron, Afellay, Bojan (Joselu 71′), Shaqiri (Diouf 71′), Crouch.
Subs not used: Ireland, Adam, Teixeira, Given.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Up next: The Reds host Borussia Dortmund in the 2nd leg on Thursday. That’s followed by a trip south to Bournemouth next Sunday.
LIVERPOOL 4-1 STOKE
- REPORT: Origi double as Reds thrash Potters
- REACTIONS: “Dominant performance”
- RATINGS: Lots of solid performances
- TALKING POINTS: Youngsters impress, lots of positives
- KLOPP: Surprised at whole complete the performance was
- WATCH: Klopp’s post-match press conference