Bournemouth 1-2 Liverpool
Premier League – Dean Court – Sunday 17th April 2016
Goals: King 90′; Firmino 41′, Sturridge 45′
After a gruelling 4-3 win at home to Borussia Dortmund on Thursday night, Klopp shuffled his pack as the Reds made their way to the south coast, naming a much-changed side to take on Eddie Howe’s Cherries.
In came the likes of Danny Ward, making his first ever appearance for the Reds, as well as Connor Randall and Brad Smith, who made their first league starts.
The only player to keep his place from the triumph over Dortmund was Roberto Firmino, who took up a focal role as Klopp maintained his tactical setup.
This gave the Reds an injection of quality, as well as great variety in attack, with Ibe spending much of his 77 minutes on the field cutting inside and dictating play, while Ojo surged towards the byline with frequency.
The first half saw centre-back Kolo Toure pumping long balls up for Sturridge and Ojo, but with little in terms of clear-cut chances—with it taking a moment of magic from the No. 15 to set up Liverpool’s opener.
Backheeling the ball beyond Artur Boruc, Sturridge found Firmino in space to tap in, giving Liverpool the momentum heading into half-time.
The striker then added a second with a header just before the interval, but while Sturridge’s sensational display merits focus as Klopp takes to Melwood on Monday morning, the German will have been pleased with the structure and defensive resolve of his youngsters.
Kevin Stewart grew in his role alongside Joe Allen in the two-man midfield, breaking up play and pushing high up to keep pressure on the Cherries’ defence.
Smith and Randall performed contrasting roles on the flanks of the defence, with the former supporting attacks with pace and energy, and the latter sticking to Bournemouth winger Max Gradel in a determined defensive display.
With Lucas Leiva stepping out of his role at centre-back and regularly finding himself at odds with the pace of late goalscorer Joshua King, Ward was called into action on a number of occasions.
Contributing some fine stops to deny the likes of King and Matt Ritchie, Ward’s performance was characteristic of a resolute display from a new-look Reds side peppered with quality.
Optimistic times for the Reds.