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Klopp is stoked by rampant Reds


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during the Premier League win over Stoke City yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during the Premier League win over Stoke City yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during the Premier League win over Stoke City yesterday. Photo: Reuters

A much-changed Liverpool side avoided a Europa League hangover with a dominant 4-1 victory over Stoke.

Alberto Moreno's fine opener was cancelled out by Bojan Krkic but Daniel Sturridge restored their lead before half-time at Anfield and two goals from half-time substitute Divock Origi capped the best week of his Liverpool career.

Afterwards, Klopp spoke of his pride at the quality shown by his team.

"I'm really proud. We made changes and it was a completely new formation. I'm sure the players have never played together before in this line-up," he said.

"Stoke played 70 to 80% long balls to Peter Crouch, and you have to be tuned into that. It was a smart performance.

"Divock is still a young lad. We have to be patient. He can play together with Daniel.

"There's absolutely no doubt about that. We hope it stays like this that we have two strikers available like this because we have a big number of games to go."

Klopp made seven changes from the team that drew 1-1 in Dortmund with Thursday's second leg in mind.

Two were enforced, with Jordan Henderson's knee injury ruling him out for the rest of the season and Emre Can suspended. Kevin Stewart and Sheyi Ojo made their first Premier League starts while Roberto Firmino and Sturridge were given the chance to impress in attack.

It took Liverpool only eight minutes to break the deadlock but the source was somewhat unlikely given Moreno had not scored since December 2014.

Stoke gave the Spaniard all the time in the world to pick his spot after James Milner had found him with a short free-kick and Moreno lashed his effort into the far corner from 20 yards.

The visitors did not get going until the quarter hour mark but scored from their first chance in the 22nd minute.

Xherdan Shaqiri, back after a month out injured, curled a free-kick into the box after Martin Skrtel had fouled Peter Crouch and it was the smallest man on the pitch, Bojan, who flicked in the header - Stoke's first Premier League goal at Anfield.

At the other end, Sturridge shot just wide, but the striker did not have too long to wait to restore Liverpool's lead.

The England man has much to prove for club and country and was given the simple task of nodding in after Ojo, having switched from right to left, tricked his way past Shaqiri and dug out a perfect cross to the back post.

It was a surprise to see Ojo replaced after an impressive half but less than five minutes after coming on Origi rose unchallenged to head in Milner's cross.

Origi had certainly made an impact since coming on and in the 65th minute he put the game out of Stoke's reach.

The striker picked the ball up wide on the left and drove into the area before curling the ball just inside the far post. The Belgian may well have been intending to pick out Sturridge but could not have placed it better.

Stoke boss Mark hughes said: "Once goals go in, it becomes difficult. It could have become embarrassing for us. It was damage limitation in the end.

"I was reasonably happy with the first-half performance, even though we were behind. But we kept on letting ourselves down by not switching on when the ball went dead.

"It was a difficult day, where we didn't acquit ourselves well enough."