A highly professional and gritty performance from Jurgen Klopp’s men in the semifinal first-leg game against Stoke City at Britannia has Liverpool in touching distance of the League Cup trophy.
Jordon Ibe’s 37th-minute goal was a due reward for the first half dominance Liverpool had over Mark Hughes men who struggled with the high pressing tempo seen in Klopp’s Liverpool side sometimes this season, especially in games against Manchester City and Chelsea which they both won.
The promise of Wembley and silverware appeared to lift Liverpool as they came back from a disappointing loss over the weekend to West Ham, Klopp will also pride himself for getting a win as his prolific semifinal record as Borussia Dortmund manager, winning all four ties he was involved in will come to mind.
Yet the new manager might regret the failure of his team to add to Ibe’s goal, with both the youngster and Roberto Firmino guilty of some wasteful shooting after Liverpool’s second-half counterattacks. Also, the extension of what was already a long injury list is a concern.
Liverpool will most likely be without Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren for some weeks as they both pulled their hamstrings in the game.
Stoke City’s inconsistency came to the fore as Stoke who had an enviable forward line up of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay, Marko Arnautovic behind Bojan Krkic, struggled to make an impression on the game.
Jonathan Walters who replaced Geoff Cameron at the break missed a late chance to level for stoke.
Hughes will rue the few chances missed in a below average performance and the collective gasp from the crowd when the public announcer named Marko Arnautovic man of the match confirmed this.
The home defeat leaves Stoke a minor mountain to climb in the return leg at Anfield on January 26.