Monday 18 December 2017

Reds gain revenge at Stoke

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho came up with a late winner in a 1-0 victory at Stoke.
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho came up with a late winner in a 1-0 victory at Stoke.

Liverpool avenged their humiliation on the final day of last season at Stoke by opening their Barclays Premier League campaign with a 1-0 victory in the Potteries.

Brendan Rodgers' side lost 6-1 at the Britannia Stadium at the end of May to leave the Liverpool manager's job hanging by a thread.

A quirk of the fixture list sent Liverpool back to Stoke just 11 weeks after that embarrassment, but Rodgers was smiling this time as Phillipe Coutinho produced a brilliant late strike.

The Brazilian picked the ball up from deep and advanced with four minutes remaining to unleash a thunderous 25-yard shot past Jack Butland in the Stoke goal to hand Mark Hughes' side an unfortunate home defeat.

Stoke's best opportunity came when Marco van Ginkel tested Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after the break.

Petr Cech made an inauspicious Arsenal league debut as West Ham pulled off a surprise 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium - their first over the Gunners since April 2007.

The former Chelsea goalkeeper, who moved across London in a £10million summer deal, was culpable for both goals as West Ham manager Slaven Bilic enjoyed a memorable first afternoon in a Premier League dug-out.

Cech misjudged Dimitri Payet's free-kick two minutes before the break to allow Cheikhou Kouyate to nod the Hammers into a half-time lead.

And it got even worse for the Czech international when he was caught flat-footed by Mauro Zarate's 57th minute shot and was beaten inside his near post.

Newcastle manager Steve McClaren was prevented from making a winning start on Tyneside as Southampton substitute Shane Long headed a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at St James' Park.

Southampton were without manager Ronald Koeman who was at home nursing an Achilles injury, the Dutchman's brother and his assistant Erwin taking charge of team affairs.

But Graziano Pelle needed only 24 minutes to grab his first of this campaign when he headed home new boy Cedric Soares' cross.

Papiss Cisse levelled three minutes before the break when he bundled home from close range and summer signing Gini Wijnaldum put Newcastle ahead soon after the re-start, the Dutchman slotting in Gabriel Obertan's cross.

But Saints substitute Long gave the visitors a share of the spoils when he powered home Dusan Tadic's cross with 11 minutes remaining.

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