Sunday 18 November 2018

Liverpool find ruthless touch to silence the Kop boo boys

Liverpool 3 Huddersfield 0

Georginio Wijnaldum fires Liverpool’s third and final goal past a cluster of Huddersfield defenders at Anfield yesterday. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters
Georginio Wijnaldum fires Liverpool’s third and final goal past a cluster of Huddersfield defenders at Anfield yesterday. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Andy Hunter

David Wagner planted a little kiss on Jürgen Klopp's cheek as the two friends embraced on the final whistle. The Liverpool manager will have cherished three points much more. There was audible discontent around Anfield at half-time of what Klopp had labelled a must-win contest. It was ultimately replaced by the relief and satisfaction of a routine win.

Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum scored the second-half goals that eased Liverpool's anxieties following a miserable afternoon at Wembley last Sunday and a first-half display that showed the lingering after-effects.

For Huddersfield there would be no repeat of their heroics against Manchester United last weekend. Klopp's side comfortably contained the newly promoted outfit, even while struggling to find their rhythm before the break. A clean sheet will have added to the manager's content following the inquest into events at Tottenham.

The tone of a disjointed first-half display from Liverpool had been set before a ball was kicked. Philippe Coutinho joined Sadio Mané on the sidelines with an adductor problem, denying Klopp much-needed invention against a Huddersfield team content to keep 10 men behind the ball. Dejan Lovren survived the axe despite last weekend's calamitous performance, only to injure himself in the warm-up. Alberto Moreno's first contribution was to concede a needless corner attempting an overhead kick deep inside his own half. It was, initially, one of those days.

Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action with Huddersfield Town’s Laurent Depoitre. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters
Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action with Huddersfield Town’s Laurent Depoitre. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Liverpool dominated possession on home soil as usual, but were reliant on Huddersfield lapses for a sight of Jonas Lössl's goal. They rarely threatened to break a risk-averse opponent of their own accord before the interval. Wagner's intention was clear: frustrate his best friend's team at all costs, including at the expense of committing men forward to test an understandably nervous Liverpool defence. The trepidation that rolled off the Kop whenever Simon Mignolet had the ball at his feet was palpable, and that was from back-passes. He was never put under serious pressure by a Huddersfield player.

Sturridge and James Milner both had half-chances from long, accurate balls by Jordan Henderson, while Mohamed Salah shot tamely at the Huddersfield goalkeeper following a neat one-two with Firmino. They were the only opportunities of note in a turgid first half until Liverpool were presented with a needless penalty shortly before half-time.

The danger appeared to have passed for the visitors when Milner's free-kick from the left sailed over a crowded penalty area. Referee Kevin Friend, however, had spotted a pull on Firmino's shirt by Tommy Smith and had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and booking the Huddersfield captain. The visitiog players argued vehemently, a waste of time, and Salah stepped forward instead of Milner to take the spot-kick, presumably on the basis of his World Cup qualifying heroics for Egypt. They were not repeated here. Salah drove low down the centre, Lössl saved, and Henderson drove the follow-up against the base of a post. It was Liverpool's third consecutive penalty miss at Anfield, all by different takers.

Klopp's team departed at the interval to a few boos. It was to their credit how quickly they consigned the first half to an irrelevance. Liverpool were given a significant assist by another unforced error by Smith. The right-back was under no pressure as he attempted to cut out an aimless punt forward from Moreno but succeeded only in steering a wayward header across his own penalty area. Sturridge had sensed the slip-up and pounced in style, beating Lössl to the loose ball and lifting a nonchalant finish over the exposed keeper.

Sturridge was denied a second by a superb intervention from Mathias Jorgensen, who managed to divert Firmino's low cross out for a corner after Henderson had released the Brazilian with another fine ball from deep. The reprieve was fleeting for Huddersfield. From the resulting Milner corner, Firmino escaped his marker, Aaron Mooy, and planted an unstoppable header beyond Lössl from inside the six-yard box.

Salah and Joël Matip both went close to scoring a third as Liverpool ultimately cruised to a much-needed win. It fell to Wijnaldum to deliver the final flourish, collecting Salah's pass inside the penalty area and lashing the ball into the roof of the Huddersfield goal as four defenders backed off.

Liverpool's James Milner tackles Huddersfield Town’s Tom Ince. Photo: Reuters/Craig Brough.
Liverpool's James Milner tackles Huddersfield Town’s Tom Ince. Photo: Reuters/Craig Brough.

Observer

Huddersfield Town's Laurent Depoitre (left) and Liverpool's Joel Matip battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield. Photo: Dave Howarth/PA
Huddersfield Town's Laurent Depoitre (left) and Liverpool's Joel Matip battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield. Photo: Dave Howarth/PA
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates his side's third goal of the game at Anfield. Photo: Dave Howarth/PA
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates his side's third goal of the game at Anfield. Photo: Dave Howarth/PA

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