Liverpool secure all three points against Stoke City

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Philippe Coutinho produced yet another wonder-strike to avenge Liverpool's embarrassing loss to Stoke City last season.

The pair met on the final day of the the 2014/15 campaign and Stoke produced a shock 6-1 win on Steven Gerrard's last ever game for the Reds, leaving Brendan Rodgers and his side shell-shocked.

Coutinho scored sublimed goals last season against Southampton and Manchester City and produced once again when his curling 25 yard shot gave Jack Butland no chance in the closing stages of the match.


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Brendan Rodgers was determined to correct that result and showed a statement of intent by starting new £32.5 million signing Christian Benteke upfront.

Benteke almost had the chance to make an instant impact inside two minutes.  Coutinho started the match brightly with a clever piece of footwork and linked with his team-mates well however could not find the killer pass to the Belgium international.

Charlie Adam left Liverpool three years ago and netted during the 6-1 thrashing last May and had a glorious chance to give Stoke the opener after eight minutes. Marco Van Ginkel got in behind Coutinho on the right-hand side and his cross found Adam however the Scotland international failed to make sufficient contact with his strike.

Joe Gomez had a stiff test of marking the experienced Jonathan Walters and the former Charlton Athletic man refused to be bullied by the Potters' captain in the early stages.


Pre-match talk was dominated around who would partner Martin Skrtel at centre-back. Dejan Lovren was chosen over Mamadou Sakho but it was Skrtel who made the first real mistake. He fouled Mame Biram Diouf needlessly 35 yards from goal and earned himself a yellow card in the process. Adam whipped the set-piece into the box which was met by the head of Walters but his effort went wide and the flag went up.

Simon Mignolet was often criticised by not getting off his line quick enough last season but was alert when Skrtel's poor back pace fell into the path of Diouf only for the Liverpool shot-stopper to clear into touch after 30 minutes.

After an intriguing clash that mirrored a game of chess,Walters finally got the better of Gomez when he won a header on the right-hand touchline and played the ball towards Van Ginkel. He fired his cross on the by-line into the box and, after a deflection, Skrtel scrambled the ball away on the goal-line. The attack was not finished there, however, and Ibrahaim Affelay had his shot blocked by Nathaniel Clyne but the fell to Glen Johnson, who left Liverpool just five weeks ago, however could only chip his effort over the bar.

On the brink of half-time, Adam continued his stranglehold in the game; he won the ball of Jordan Henderson and hit quickly hit a long-ball towards Diouf. Adam continued his run and the ball kindly fell towards him and struck from 25 yards out however the effort was an easy stop for Mignolet.

Mark Hughes brought on Philipp Wollscheid at the break for Erik Pieters, who'd received treatment prior to half-time.

Van Ginkel was lively throughout the first-half and just after the break he looked toproperly  test Mignolet for the first time in the match with a left-footed effort from 20 yards out but the Reds goalkeeper collected the shot with minimal fuss.

Walters began winning the battle with Gomez and the England U18's international fouled the Stoke midfielder. Adam was granted the opportunity to whip another free-kick into the box with his dazzling left-foot and that he did finding Diouf's head but the effort was denied by a superb save by Mignolet.

The game then opened up and Liverpool began to take an upper hand on the game. Coutinho was a diamond in the rough last season and he almost broke the deadlock in the 67th minute. He skipped past three Stoke defenders and, after being challenged, won the ball back and passed to Benteke but the former Aston Villa man's shot was blocked.

Liverpool continued the pressure and after soon smart work from Milner, Henderson flicked to Coutinho but could not control and the ball went out for a corner.

Skrtel went up for the set-piece and met Milner's corner with intent with his head only for Butland to scamper to his right and clutch the ball into his arms.


The Reds continued their dominate period on the game and Henderson surged onto Milner's cleverly weighted pass but the Liverpool captain could not find Benteke at the back post.

With 15 minutes left, Emre Can, who'd been brought on as a substitute to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, looked to play the hero off the bench and picked the ball up in middle of the park and spotted Benteke's diagonal run however the pass was ever slightly under-hit to be cleared.

Johnson was soon making an impact at the other end and played a crafty ball to Walters who flicked to van Ginkel. The winger on loan from Chelsea drilled his shot but Skrtel threw hit body at the effort to block away with intent.

Johnson again looked to make Rodgers pay minutes later when he cut inside and crossed towards Diouf but Clyne's stretching header cleared for a corner.

The deadlock was finally broken with just five minutes remaining and needed a moment of magic to produce a goal. That is indeed what Coutinho produced. The former Inter Milan man received the ball from Gomez and cleverly turned Steven Sidwell. With space ahead he surged and struck his effort from 25 yards out; Butland scampered at the effort but he was helpless and Coutinho gave his side the lead and ultimately the three points.

Diouf almost gave Stoke a late equaliser but Mignolet again was quick off his line to deny the home team's forward. 

Liverpool's one goal gave them just their second win at the Britannia in six years.

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Stoke City
Philippe Coutinho
Premier League

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