Liverpool 1-0 Leicester City

Liverpool ended a run of four matches without a win as Christian Benteke’s second-half strike earned them a 1-0 victory against surprise Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester City.
Claudio Ranieri’s side secured top spot for Christmas with a thrilling 3-2 win at Everton last week but they struggled to make an impact against their Merseyside rivals at Anfield on Boxing Day.
Divock Origi came close twice in the first half before he was forced off with a hamstring injury, but his replacement Benteke fired in Roberto Firmino’s cross with 63 minutes played to clinch a much-needed victory for Jurgen Klopp and condemn Leicester to just a second league defeat of the season.
Riyad Mahrez looked a threat on the counter throughout for Leicester but Ranieri’s men found it difficult to sustain an attacking threat against Liverpool’s intense pressing.

N’Golo Kante came close to an equaliser but Liverpool held out for the three points, in the process becoming the first side in the top flight this season to keep a clean sheet against Leicester.
In an end-to-end opening period Adam Lallana blasted just past the near post as he raced into the visitors’ area.
Origi then shot narrowly over after cutting in from the right before forcing Kasper Schmeichel into a good save at his near post after driving into space in the area, but the Belgian forward limped off shortly before half-time with what looked to be a problem with his right hamstring.

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Liverpool almost found themselves a goal behind when the in-form Mahrez showed great feet to skip into space 18 yards out, but Simon Mignolet reacted well to parry his rasping drive over the bar.
Klopp’s side had fired in 18 shots in the first half but Leicester kept them at arm’s length early in the second until Benteke struck just past the hour mark.

Roberto Firmino clipped a cross from the left into the path of Benteke, who placed a right-footed shot on the stretch into the bottom-right corner, giving Schmeichel no chance.
Ranieri substituted top scorer Jamie Vardy, who took a knock to his ankle early in the half, as Leicester sought a foothold in the match, and Mignolet was forced into a fine reaction stop to keep out Kante’s attempt from close range.

The visitors continued to apply late pressure but Liverpool’s rearguard remained resolute, before Benteke missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 in stoppage time, after Schmeichel had abandoned his goal to come up for a corner. The Belgium striker somehow contrived to miss but his earlier goal proved sufficient for Anfield to celebrate a first home win since 29 November against Swansea City.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “After four games with no result, that was very important today. Everybody knows of the quality of Leicester and what we had to do today was play simple football.
“The first half was really good and then we had to change. Christian Benteke was not warm [when he came on for Divock Origi], it’s not easy to come into the game.

“We made the goal, brilliant situation where the boys showed their quality in small situations. We were never really under pressure.”

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri: “We started to play too late. Liverpool pushed from the beginning and for this season they deserved to win.

“They showed a very good character and we tried to do our best but maybe in the first half we were too nervous to play our football. The second half was much better, but it is ok.

“Jamie Vardy played with a fever and I had to change him and Riyad Mahrez was very tired. Now we have to clean our mind and get ready for the next match [against Manchester City]. Another big rock.”

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