Liverpool defeated Bournemouth 1-0 in controversial circumstances at Anfield last night to continue their 100% winning start to this season's Premier League campaign.
Christian Benteke was Liverpool’s match-winner, however, his goal should’ve been disallowed under the new tweak to the ever changing offside law. The new rule states that any player who makes a move for the ball, regardless of whether or not they make contact, should be ruled offside if they affect the decision-making of an opponent.
In this scenario, Philipe Coutinho, who was clearly in an offside position when Jordan Henderson delivered a cross into the box, should’ve been flagged offside because he made an active attempt to make contact with the ball, which, in turn, affected the decision making of Bournemouth’s goal keeper Artur Boruc.
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Nonetheless, Benteke got himself off the mark as a Liverpool player in the 26th minute of his home debut when he poked home Henderson’s dangerous delivery from close range.
Prior to this, Bournemouth had been the better side. They started off brightly and had a goal wrongly disallowed after just five minutes.
Strong Bournemouth start
Bournemouth’s captain Tommy Elphick was penalised for his “challenge” on Dejan Lovren, when he was adjudged to have used the Liverpool centre-half as leverage to win the close range header which ended up being disallowed.
The cancelled out goal didn’t dampen the spirit of Eddie Howe’s side who continued to move the ball quickly. Last season’s top scorer Calum Wilson looked a constant threat playing on the shoulder of Liverpool’s back four.
Liverpool began to come back into the game after 15 minutes, largely due to the fact that their star player, Philippe Coutinho, was beginning to see more of the ball.
The diminutive Brazilian playmaker came close to releasing Benteke with a wonderful, lofted pass beyond Elphick and Steve Cook – who were, for the record, playing their 50th consecutive game together at the heart of Bournemouth’s back four – but the Belgian striker was half a yard away from reaching the ball and the chance came to nothing.
At the other end, Wilson nearly made it 1-0 but he couldn't quite sort his feet out from close range after some great work down the left-hand side from Charlie Daniels.
The next talking point was, of course, Benteke’s controversial opener. Henderson deserves a lot of credit for the brilliant, whipped delivery to the back post, however, the goal shouldn’t have stood; it’s as simple as that.
Henderson came close to doubling the home side’s advantage after half an hour when his dipping half-volley from James Milner’s free-kick grazed the top of the crossbar.
On the stroke of half-time, Coutinho missed a simple chance on his left foot from inside the box. Despite this, Coutinho was once again the standout player for the home side going into the halftime break.
Liverpool had enjoyed 58% of the possession in the first half, and despite not playing anywhere near their best, they still had seven attempts on goal. For all their tidy work, Bournemouth had only managed one attempt on goal during the first 45 minutes.
At the start of the second half, Bournemouth looked lively once again. Matt Ritchie – the excellent wide midfielder who scored 15 goals last season – was starting to see a lot more of the ball and had a good effort from 25 yards well saved by Mignolet on the 50 minute mark.
Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson was replaced by Emre Can after 53 minutes after feeling considerable pain in his foot, it is too early yet to predict whether or not he’ll be fit for Liverpool’s clash with Arsenal next Monday.
As the game wore on, Bournemouth continued to probe and Ritchie struck the outside of Mignolet’s left post after a sweetly struck effort from just outside the box. The Scotland international was giving a great account of himself on his away Premier League debut; if Bournemouth are to stay up this season, he will have a massive role to play.
The last 20 minutes of the game passed by without too many clear-cut opportunities. Liverpool kept the ball efficiently and didn’t allow Bournemouth any easy attempts on Mignolet’s goal.
The final chance of the game fell to Benteke, who hit the bar with a close range, scuffed half volley after a pinpoint cross from the impressive Nathaniel Clyne on Liverpool’s right-hand side.
After the game, Eddie Howe was rightfully frustrated, as he said: “You can't beat the decisions and the two big ones have cost us points. It is unforgiving”.
“Under the new rules that is clearly offside. Our goalkeeper was affected by the player in front of him. I was very surprised that the goal was given”.
Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers was happy for his side to keep their 100% record, as he said: “We knew it would be a tough game. Defensively we were very good. Our play was better after the goal, I am very pleased”.
He was full of praise for Benteke, adding: “Christian Benteke is bedding into a new team but you could see his threat. I'm very pleased for the players, six points, two clean sheets and the team will grow."
Liverpool: (4-2-3-1) Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Gomez; Milner, Henderson; Lallana, Coutinho, Ibe; Benteke.
Bournemouth: (4-4-2) Boruc; Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels; Ritchie, O’Kane, Surman, Gradel; Wilson, King.
Man of the match: Christian Benteke