Sunday 24 March 2019

Liverpool fail to capitalise fully after Man City's slip-up as battling Leicester earn deserved point at Anfield

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum react after conceding the goal scored by Leicester City's Harry Maguire. Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum react after conceding the goal scored by Leicester City's Harry Maguire. Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Carl Markham

Liverpool failed to take full advantage of Manchester City's slip-up in the title race as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester.

It extended their advantage at the top of the Premier League to five points but manager Jurgen Klopp would have expected more after taking a lead inside three minutes through Sadio Mane.

He would have been even less impressed with a number of penalty claims which referee Martin Atkinson waved away and positively apoplectic about the marking which allowed Harry Maguire to equalise in first-half added time.

Leicester, who weathered the early storm and came on strong in the second half, ended a three-match losing streak with a determined performance.

Their recovery will give under-pressure manager Claude Puel encouragement after going behind to Liverpool's quickest league goal - 121 seconds - for almost three years.

A 30-pass move culminated in Andrew Robertson and Roberto Firmino combining to tee up Mane for a low shot around Maguire's legs and inside the far post.

The Foxes are favoured opposition for the Senegal international, who now has had a hand in five goals - three goals and two assists - in his last five appearances against them.

It meant for the fifth consecutive season he has taken his league goal tally into double figures and was the 100th goal scored at Anfield by him and fellow forwards Mohamed Salah and Firmino.

The weather was cold but Liverpool were hot with Salah's far-post cross superbly chested down by Firmino, who flicked the ball with the outside of his right foot before firing in a low shot which Kasper Schmeichel tipped around the post.

Mane missed a free header from Xherdan Shaqiri's subsequent corner but not long after Liverpool's tempo began to drop quicker than the temperature.

Alisson Becker miskicked a short Jordan Henderson backpass to James Maddison, who went down under a challenge from the back-tracking auxiliary defender but referee Atkinson was not interested in awarding a penalty.

When Alisson delayed another clearance it was half-blocked by Jamie Vardy with Maddison making a complete mess of his far-post header when the ball was returned by Marc Albrighton.

Maguire found himself in action at both ends of the pitch with varying results as Salah ran into him in the penalty area - with no punishment for either player - before he was booked for tripping Mane as he tried to run clean through onto Robertson's pass.

By far his biggest contribution, however, was the added-time volley when Liverpool failed to clear a free-kick and the defender broke the offside line to sneak in at the far post.

The big centre-back almost repeated the feat early in the second half and it required Alisson to get Firmino out of jail when his Brazil team-mate diverted Maguire's header goalwards.

Naby Keita felt he should have had a penalty when, after exchanging passes with Firmino to get through on goal, Ricardo Pereira laid two hands on his back causing him to fall but the referee awarded a goal-kick.

While Liverpool were appealing for another penalty, this time on Virgil Van Dijk, Leicester launched a three-on-two counter-attack but Maddison was furious when Demarai Gray opted to shoot at Alisson rather than squaring the ball to him.

Schmeichel kept out Firmino with the last real decent chance of the game with Mane flashing over a header in added time.

Liverpool's unbeaten home record was extended to 32 league matches but the first dropped points at Anfield since October meant the sense of a missed opportunity was palpable at the final whistle.

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