Wednesday 23rd August, 2017
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Substitutes rescue Liverpool against Stoke City

Substitutes rescue Liverpool against Stoke City

Liverpool came from behind on Saturday to beat Stoke City and stay on course for a top-four finish, thanks to goals by substitutes Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.

Unmarked Jon Walters headed the hosts into the lead after meeting Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross, as the Reds failed to register a first-half effort on target.

Coutinho levelled with a first-time shot before Firmino smashed the bouncing ball beyond keeper Lee Grant after Georginio Wijnaldum’s pass.

Liverpool, with this win, remain third in the English Premier League table.

Much has been made of Liverpool’s inability to beat teams in the bottom half of the table.

And for 45 minutes it looked like they were heading for defeat against a team that started the day 12th.

Klopp started with 17-year-old Ben Woodburn and 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold.

He opted to keep Coutinho, who was ill during Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Bournemouth, and Firmino on the bench.

It looked like his plan to give youth a chance had backfired as Walters was left totally unmarked to bury Shaqiri’s inch-perfect cross past Simon Mignolet.

It was only after the introduction of Brazilian duo of Coutinho and Firmino at the start of the second half that Liverpool played like a team chasing a Champions League spot.

They came in in  place of Woodburn and Alexander-Arnold.

Dejan Lovren headed against the bar before Coutinho swept home the equaliser from 12 yards out.

Liverpool fans were still celebrating when Firmino lashed a dipping shot over Lee Camp from 22 yards, a sublime goal worthy of winning any match.

Mignolet still had to produce a fine save to deny Saido Berhaino, but Liverpool hung on to move nine points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal, although the Reds have played three games more.

Stoke slipped to 13th in the table after a fourth successive league defeat.

They were the better team in the first half but Mark Hughes’ side remain without a win against a team currently in the top six – eight defeats in 11 games.

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