Friday 9 December 2016

Firmino double makes it a happy homecoming

Liverpool 4 Leicester 1

Andy Hunter

Published 11/09/2016 | 02:30

Adam Lallana Photo: Reuters
Adam Lallana Photo: Reuters

Anfield is open for business. After all the hype surrounding the new £114m (€135m) main stand at Anfield it was always dependent on Liverpool's players to follow Jurgen Klopp's instruction and "fill it with life". They duly obliged, filling it with goals, quality and hope as Leicester City were condemned to a comprehensive defeat.

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For the Premier League champions it was an inauspicious start to a week in which they make their debut on the Champions League stage against Club Brugge. Claudio Ranieri's side were made to appear pedestrian at times by the quick thinking of Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana and the quick feet of Sadio Mane. Liverpool's superiority over last season's champions was reflected in the excellence of two Firmino finishes, a superb team goal from Mane and an emphatic strike by Lallana.

Sadio Mane of Liverpool scores his sides second goal past Kasper Schmeichel. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Sadio Mane of Liverpool scores his sides second goal past Kasper Schmeichel. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Initial impressions of the new main stand at Anfield were positive - particularly in terms of noise, view and space - yet of an incident-packed contest they proved misleading. Klopp's squad may have trained at their refurbished home on Thursday but it was Leicester who made the more confident, purposeful start. Liverpool were initially encamped in their own half and careless in possession, with the exception of the assured Georginio Wijnaldum, one of three home debutants. Then they clicked and sliced apart the champions with an exhibition of movement, accuracy and vision.

Read more: 'Please don't sing my name until the game is over' - Jurgen Klopp makes plea to the Kop  

Roberto Firmino claimed Liverpool's first goal of the campaign at home after an intelligent run and finish, though the contribution of Daniel Sturridge, arguably only playing because of Philippe Coutinho's exertions for Brazil, was not lost on Anfield's largest attendance since 1977.

After making a couple of decent saves Kasper Schmeichel was powerless to prevent Sturridge and Mane combining once more to double Liverpool's advantage with a superb team goal. Lucas, Firmino and Jordan Henderson were involved as the Liverpool captain sent Sturridge sprinting clear with a measured chip over the top. The striker's control was excellent, his second touch even better as he back-heeled inside for the unmarked Mane to scoop the ball over the Leicester goalkeeper.

Jamie Vardy of Leicester City scores his side's only goal. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Jamie Vardy of Leicester City scores his side's only goal. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Anfield audibly purred over the comfortable lead but was soon left aghast as makeshift centre-half Lucas prodded the ball straight to the unmarked Jamie Vardy, who converted the gift into an empty goal.

But the home side posed a threat with every foray and restored their two-goal advantage when Lallana struck the 100th goal of Klopp's Liverpool reign. Sturridge was again involved, picking out Wijnaldum's darting run into the penalty area. The Dutch midfielder laid the ball square for Lallana, who drove an unstoppable drive into Schmeichel's top corner.

Mane's pace exposed Leicester once again late on. Released by his captain, he evaded a needless lunge by Schmeichel to sprint goalwards and invite Firmino to seal victory with a nonchalant finish.

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