Roberto Firmino

Liverpool
Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Atleti ends Liverpool hopes of UCL repeat

1 Comment

Marcos Llorente scored twice in extra time, the first off an extra-time blunder from Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian, as Atletico Madrid knocked the reigning champions out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

The match finished 3-2 to Atleti, 4-2 on aggregate, as Alvaro Morata scored late to pour salt in Liverpool’s wounds.

[ MORE: Klopp, Milner react | Simeone, too ]

The Reds forgot their finishing boots on a dominant day, out-attempting Diego Simeone’s visitors 34-9. Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak made nine saves.

Roberto Firmino’s goal in the fourth minute of extra time joined Georginio Wijnaldum‘s first-half goal to give Liverpool an advantage it held for less than two minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three things we learned

1. Gini and The Ox run the show, but miserable finishing kills Reds: Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rewarded Jurgen Klopp for his risk of removing off-kilter star Fabinho from the Starting XI. The pair teamed up on the opening goal but it was more than that that earned them headlines. Wijnaldum was the best player not named Jan Oblak in the first half, while Oxlade-Chamberlain was a menace to Atleti’s midfielders in the second frame. While Jordan Henderson was understandably a bit rusty at times, his center midfield mates delivered the goods.

That said, Liverpool’s finishing was a combination of truly poor and terribly unlucky. Even when the Reds went ahead in stoppage time, it was Firmino cashing in a rebound after his first shot toward a gaping half of the goal hit the post. Robertson headed off the cross bar. Mohamed Salah shot ball after the ball almost directly to Jan Oblak or over the goal. This won’t go down as “Atleti is so hard to break down,” though Simeone’s men obviously are a tough team; The Reds just didn’t finish enough of their many, many chances.

2. Oblak almost everywhere: Not sure where exactly the joke is here, but Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper blocked nearly everything that came his way, inspiring “Oh” and “Oh” from the Anfield faithful. The Slovenian shot-stopper

3. Adrian gives it away: Spanish keeper Adrian had very little to do on the day in filling in for the injured Alisson Becker, but ultimately will go down as the man responsible for Liverpool’s failure to defend its UCL crown. He made three saves on the day, but his poor pass up the middle of the pitch to Joao Felix will be what everyone remembers as Liverpool again loses a big UCL match due to a goalkeeper error (and terrible finishing).

Man of the Match: It’s Oblak. Yes, Llorente scored twice. Sure, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum were incredible. But the Slovenian commanded his box in the face of extreme adversity and congestion.


Liverpool entered the match with predictable vigor, Jan Oblak’s first duty coming off a Georginio Wijnaldum header of a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross.

Atleti found its footing soon after, Kieran Trippier unable to turn a long diagonal ball off a free kick back toward goal.

Salah tempted the frame with a 20-yard attempt in the 10th minute, and Oblak made a sprawling denial of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain four minutes later.

Atleti won a corner in the 17th, but Felipe nodded short of the near post.

Salah took advantage of a Renan Lodi slip to cue up Sadio Mane, but his bounding shot was blocked and collected by Oblak.

The Atleti keeper then made a fantastic save on Roberto Firmino after an incisive Alexander-Arnold cross.

Wijnaldum leveled the tie in the 43rd minute, and the goal had been coming. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross found a wide-open Wijnaldum at the spot for a powered-down header that bounced past Oblak.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Salah stung Oblak’s palms early in the second half, and the Atleti keeper stopped an offside Mane with a fantastic left-hand save in the 50th.

Oblak got low to palm away an Oxlade-Chamberlain drive, conceding a corner.

Joao Felix had a chance out of nothing, and Adrian bumbled the ball but saved his error by blocking Correa’s chop at the rebound.

Robertson was celebrating a would-be go-ahead goal off a Salah cross, but it hit the cross bar in the 67th minute. Oblak made another fine save before the rebound was blocked by a defender.

An 81st-minute corner routine set up Robertson for glory, but he blazed clear of the frame from 18 yards.

Wijnaldum couldn’t finish with a back post header off a James Milner cross, and Mane smashed an overhead kick over the bar.

Saul Niguez was offside when he headed a stoppage-time free kick home, and the match moved to extra time.

Oblak made another save to start stoppage time, his ninth of the match. Firmino then took his rebound off the post to make it 2-0.

But wait, Atleti had an answer when Adrian’s clearance went right to Joao Felix. A few touches later it was 2-1 through Llorente’s low drive, and he added another through a well-worked counterattack to stun the reigning champs.

Morata blazed past the Liverpool back line to seal the result deep in the second period of extra time.

Sloppy Liverpool edge past Bournemouth

Leave a comment

Liverpool beat Bournemouth 2-1 at Anfield on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp‘s men recovered from an early setback to secure another victory and bounce back from a tough week.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

After losing at Watford last weekend to see their hopes of an unbeaten season end, Klopp’s side were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Chelsea in midweek and they fell behind early on to Callum Wilson’s controversial goal. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both scored in quick succession in the first half to put Liverpool ahead and the rest of the game was a fairly tight encounter as Bournemouth kept battling and almost levelled late on.

Liverpool have now won 22-straight top-flight games at home, setting a new club and top-flight record, and they are 55 Premier League games unbeaten at home, stretching back to April 2017.

With the win they now need just three more victories from to secure their first-ever Premier League title and are 25 points clear atop the table. Bournemouth remain in the relegation zone on 27 points.


3 things we learned

1. VAR sets the precedent: There’s no doubt Callum Wilson pushed Joe Gomez in the build-up to Bournemouth’s early goal but the contact looked pretty natural and the referee waved play on. VAR intervened to check the call but didn’t think it was a clear and obvious error and that set the precedent for the rest of the game. Similar tussles were not called as fouls and whatever you think about Wilson not being penalized, there was consistency in the decisions. In the end it didn’t matter but Wilson’s goal was certainly controversial.

2. Ruthless Liverpool three wins away: It is fair to say Liverpool is limping over the line in their quest to win a first league title in 30 years. A lackluster display mimicked the atmosphere at Anfield as there as an air of expectancy now as everybody just wants to get the job done. Mane and Salah finished off their big chances and even though Liverpool were a little sloppy defensively, they ground out another one-goal win, their 14th of an amazing season.

3. Bournemouth cause their own problems: The Cherries did not play badly at all and had chances late on to grab a point at Anfield. It wouldn’t have been undeserved. Eddie Howe‘s side created their own problems on Saturday as Jack Simpson and Jefferson Lerma gave the ball away in the first half and they were punished. If Bournemouth keep playing like this they will drag themselves out of the relegation zone but the big problem is, they have a very tough schedule remaining.

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah – A superb goal and wonderful trickery all game long, Salah stepped it up when Liverpool needed it. The Egyptian King has now scored 20 goals in all competitions in all three of his seasons as a Liverpool player. A special mention to Nathan Ake too, who was superb for Bournemouth.


Bournemouth got off to a perfect start as they stunned Anfield with an early goal. Wilson was involved in a tussle with Joe Gomez and play continued with Bournemouth attacking down the right and Jefferson Lerma crossed for Wilson to tap home.

VAR was used but it was deemed that Wilson’s push on Gomez wasn’t a clear and obvious error as Bournemouth were 1-0 up. Soon after they were almost 2-0 up as Nathan Ake towered above a crowd of players from a corner and his superb header was fortuitously pushed onto the bar by Adrian.

Liverpool’s first big chance of the game then arrived as Trent Alexander-Arnold played in Roberto Firmino and his powerful effort was well-saved by Aaron Ramsdale who stood tall. Soon after the game turned on its head.

Jack Simpson, who had come on to replace the injured Steve Cook moments earlier, was caught in possession and Salah kept his composure to equalize with a cheeky finish. Moments later Mane put Liverpool 2-1 up as Virgil Van Dijk found the Senegalese forward who finished calmly as Jurgen Klopp went wild on the sidelines.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Bournemouth hung in there in the second half and almost levelled things up as Ryan Fraser got in over the top and lobbed the ball over Adrian but James Milner appeared from nowhere to hook the ball off the line superbly.

Adrian continued to look uncertain in goal as Bournemouth pushed for an equalizer, while at the other end Virgil van Dijk’s header was saved well by Ramsdale.

Mane then curled an audacious effort off the crossbar late on as Liverpool aimed to see out the game in style, with Roberto Firmino also firing an effort over the bar. Ake almost scored a late winner but was flagged offside as Liverpool held on with minimum fuss, in the end.

Liverpool makes history versus wasteful Spurs

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool scored an early and withstood a furious Tottenham Hotspur charge to pick up a 1-0 win in North London on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Firmino was the goal scorer as Liverpool improved to 20W-1D, becoming the first club in Europe’s Top Five leagues to take 61 of 63 points to start a season.

Tottenham is now nine points back of the Top Four.


Key numbers

14: Spurs out-attempted Liverpool 14-13.

68: Liverpool carried nearly 70 percent of the ball.

39: Spurs hoofed almost 40 clearances compared to Liverpool’s nine.

1: Japhet Tanganga made his first Premier League start for the Spurs.

Man of the Match: Firmino.


Premier League debutant Japhet Tanganga was baptized by fire, blocking a would-be Roberto Firmino goal in the second minute.

Lucas Moura worked past Joe Gomez to drill a shot wide of the near post in the fifth. Heung-Min Son drove 50 yards to miss with an 8th minute effort.

Dele Alli saw a lash deflected over the bar in the 13th minute as Spurs countered well again.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Christian Eriksen rolled a tame shot to Alisson Becker in the 22nd.

Liverpool found danger through Salah a minute later, the Egyptian chipping to the back post where Virgil Van Dijk was denied by Paulo Gazzaniga.

The Reds went in front through Firmino, who turned past Tanganga and fired past the outstretched arms of Gazzaniga.

Virgil van Dijk slid to block a Dele Alli shot, and Serge Aurier ripped the chance into the arms of Alisson Becker. At the other end, Firmino stung Gazzaniga’s palms.

Heung-min Son saw deflected shot earn Spurs a corner in the 60th, but it came to nothing.

Gazzaniga then made a tight reaction save on Mane to keep it 1-0.

Spurs then took hold of the match, though they coudn’t find an equalizer. Serge Aurier picked out Giovani Lo Celso at the back for a sliding effort that somehow missed the frame.

Erik Lamela bounded a shot to Alisson in the 89th as Spurs kept pushing for an equalizer.

Three things we learned: Leicester v. Liverpool

Leave a comment

Liverpool beat Leicester City 4-0 on Boxing Day to extend their lead atop the Premier League table to 13 points, as the Reds also have a game in hand over the Foxes and have taken 52 points from a possible 54 points.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Man City sit in third and 14 points behind Liverpool as the halfway point in the season is almost here and at this rate Liverpool will have the title wrapped up by March…

Jurgen Klopp‘s side were dominant throughout as Roberto Firmino set them on their way, James Milner scored a penalty kick and then Firmino and the brilliant Trent Alexander-Arnold finished things off.

Here’s what we learned from a one-sided encounter at the King Power Stadium.


FIRMINO HAS FOUND HIS MOJO

In the last week the real Roberto Firmino has returned. With winning goals in the Club World Cup semifinal and final, he helped Liverpool become world champions and his powerful header and calm finish on Boxing Day at the King Power Stadium has gone a long way to making Liverpool Premier League champions. Before this purple patch Firmino had scored just once in 17 games in all competition for Liverpool, as his excellent early season form had evaporated and it was put down to a busy summer with Brazil at the Copa America.

Firmino has rediscovered his mojo and his penchant for delivering in the big moments has returned. Seeing his pearly whites on full show is always a good sign that he is back to his best and he even popped up with a few other chances on Boxing Day but didn’t bury them. Firmino’s hunger, and mojo, has returned.


FOXES FLAT AS TITLE HOPES ALL BUT OVER

They’ve now drawn with Norwich and been hammered by Man City and Liverpool in their last three games and Leicester City’s bubble has burst. They may still finish in the top four this season, which would be an incredible achievement, but against Liverpool they were their own worst enemies as they gave the ball away time and time again and never looked like threatening the league leaders.

This was a humbling day for former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, as the focus will now switch to regrouping and making sure they can finish in the top four with a solid second half of the season but they are only 10 points clear of fifth place Tottenham. The way they were battered by Liverpool could be more harmful than just a single defeat, and it will be Rodgers’ job to now pick his young side up after so many had off days, with the likes of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans totally dominated. This Leicester side had the best defensive record going into this game but they were simply ripped to shreds.


FIT-AGAIN KEITA, TAA ADD EXTRA DIMENSION TO RAMPANT LIVERPOOL

Liverpool’s machine continues to roar on as they took a huge step towards winning their first league title in over 30 years. They were dominant throughout against Leicester and a few different players are stepping up time and time again this season. Naby Keita has been sublime since returning from injury, while Trent Alexander-Arnold’s form has been otherworldly. His goal and two assists were added to by his incredible long-range passes, and TAA is still just 21 years old, which is amazing.

He and Keita add an extra dimension to Liverpool and even though Salah and Mane were fairly quite on Thursday, it didn’t matter. With Jordan Henderson digging deep in midfield, Keita’s forward runs and dribbling add an extra cutting edge. We often focus on individuals but this is a total team effort. Liverpool have lost just one of their last 57 Premier League games and have won 26 of their last 27 PL outings, with the only dropped points coming away at Man United earlier this season. They are a winning machine and key cogs, and new ones, are coming to the fore time and time again.

Liverpool win Club World Cup, beat Flamengo

AP
Leave a comment

Liverpool are officially the best club team on the planet. The Premier League leaders won the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup on Saturday as they beat Flamengo 1-0 in the final in Doha, Qatar.

Roberto Firmino scored the only goal of the game in the 99th minute, as Jurgen Klopp‘s reigning European champs beat the South American champions in a draining, tense final.

The Reds have never won the Club World Cup and they become just the second Premier League club, after Manchester United in 2008, to win the title.

They are the first English team to hold three international trophies in the same year.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Naby Keita should have put Liverpool 1-0 up early after Jordan Henderson set Mohamed Salah free over the top and he set up the onrushing Keita who fired high and wide.

Trent Alexander-Arnold flashed a shot just wide from distance as Liverpool dominated the early stages.

Flamengo improved drastically as Bruno Henrique caused Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez plenty of problems, with Gabigol sniffing around for a chance.

Liverpool came flying out of the traps in the second half as Roberto Firmino hit the post then Salah flicked a shot just wide.

Flamengo answered as Gabigol’s low shot was pushed wide by Alisson as the Brazilian giants impressed.

Salah then smashed over after catching Flamengo on the break as Liverpool huffed and puffed in the latter stages.

Gabigol sent an acrobatic effort in on goal which Alisson scrambled to save and then came Liverpool’s predictable late onslaught.

Salah had a shot blocked then Jordan Henderson’s superb shot was tipped over by Diego Alves and a huge moment of controversy arrived in stoppage time.

Sadio Mane was played in and Rafinha appeared to trip him as he raced in on goal as the referee awarded a penalty kick. But VAR was used and no penalty was awarded as the game went to extra time.

Firmino then struck in extra time as a counter attack led by Mane saw him flick the ball to Firmino and the Brazilian striker slotted home to spark wild scenes of celebration.

In the 119th minute Flamengo had their best chance of the game to score but Lincoln fired over, as the European champions were crowned as the best club team on the planet.