A brilliant performance and an even better result for Leicester, who move into second place. A top-four finish is a realistic prospect; dreams of a second Premier League title aren’t quite over yet either. Liverpool meanwhile are going to end up in mid-table unless they turn their 2021 form around, and may have to draw inspiration from their 1981 and 2005 vintages, teams that were miles off in the league but still managed to win the European Cup. David Hytner’s verdict on a dramatic afternoon at the King Power has landed. Off you pop … and thanks for reading this MBM!
Brendan Rodgers, who has beaten Liverpool for the first time since his days at Swansea, talks to BT Sport. “I’m very proud of the team. Probably a year ago, if we went behind, we’d have been disappointed and not got something from it. I thought in the first half we had the best chances, we obviously had to withstand pressure, but once we got through it we had some really good chances. I said at half time we needed to be more aggressive, we were too passive, and in the second half we were much better in our defensive aggression, and that allows you to attack with more aggression, and we scored the three goals. We had a plan if we were behind, the shape we would go into, and the players worked it brilliantly. So yeah, really happy. We went to two up front with a diamond structure, so when the game broke down for them, we had the space to go and exploit. Defensively we were good, we had to work and fight and run, and we had the quality to get the goals. There’s still a long way to go, 14 games, but I’ve been pleased with the mindset of the players, who are not getting carried away. You need humility at this level, because you’re up against such tough teams. But today was a really good performance against the champions.”
An ashen-faced Jurgen Klopp gives his analysis on BT Sport. “We conceded a goal that was a tough one to take. It was a turning point. I saw it now, a couple of times. The moment when VAR stopped the situation, he didn’t even touch the ball. So that’s really hard. For me it looks a clear offside, and that’s the moment it should be yes or no. The second goal is a misunderstanding. I said before we need to get used to each other, and we were used to each other until when the goal happened, it was a really good football game. They were one position ahead of us, maybe more now, but on the pitch that was not obvious, we were the clear dominant side. We played football, we did pretty much everything, scored a really nice goal. The game was really good, but they you concede these two goals. The third goal was something I don’t like, because we were too open and I told the boys that is not OK. But it is the situation we are in. Tough times. You saw we tried everything, it is not that we did not try. We were confident and played a super game. The turning point was the first goal. But that’s a point we take of criticism, that it changed too much with this one goal. We didn’t react well, I take that. But around that we played top football against a really strong side. In the end they finished the game and deserved the three points, but we have to deal with our observations.”
An extremely happy James Maddison speaks to BT Sport. “We know, when we play Liverpool, it’s going to be tough, because they can build and pass, and be direct as well. It’s a case of staying in the game. We’re a top team now, we’ve got quality, and if we get chances we can put them away. It showed, because in ten minutes we turned the game on its head. The more they started going for it, the more space the likes of Barnesy had. Alisson is obviously having a bit of a tough time at the moment, but I’m sure he’ll be back. I’m just glad we could take advantage of his mistake. We’re not there by fluke, we’ll keep grinding out results. We weren’t at our best, but it’s about big moments, so I’ll take the three points.”
That astonishing win moves Leicester into second spot, for a day at least. They’re now on 46 points, four behind leaders Manchester City, who have two games in hand. Manchester United can reclaim second spot tomorrrow, providing they avoid defeat at West Bromwich Albion. Liverpool however, any faint hopes of retaining their title completely extinguished, remain in fourth, but Chelsea, West Ham, Everton, Tottenham and Aston Villa are all in a position to pass them if they use their games in hand wisely. A top-four finish, given their 2021 form, looks like a pipe dream at the moment.
FULL TIME: Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool
90 min +5: John Robinson reports from the States: “Jim Beglin just said in commentary on NBC: Never mind heavy metal football, at the moment it’s Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.”
90 min +4: Barnes is very close to releasing Vardy down the middle. Liverpool very close to two 4-1 defeats in a row. When would that have happened before?
90 min +3: Robertson crosses deep from the left. Too deep. Alexander-Arnold can’t reach it, and batters the ball deep into the stand, his frustration all too clear.
90 min +1: The first of five additional minutes flies by without incident.
90 min: Alisson, to his great credit, deals with a backpass by flicking it into the air and caressing it with the outside of his boot to Robertson on the left flank. Under pressure as well. No doubt he’ll get the lion’s share of the flack for Liverpool’s late seven-minute collapse, but he’s had a good game otherwise. (I know, I know.)
89 min: Perez has tweaked his knee, and Mendy comes on in his place.
88 min: Perez is down getting treatment. Time for a word from Chris Healy: “I was just about to say Thiago is an absolute liability anywhere near his own penalty area, but it seems at the moment Alisson is an even bigger one. Dear oh dear. Liverpool are only losing this game because of the gifts they have given Leicester.”
87 min: Shaqiri comes on for Wijnaldum, while Chowdhury replaces Tielemans.
GOAL! Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool (Barnes 85)
Liverpool have fallen apart. Barnes makes another run down the inside-left channel. There’s nobody at the back. He enters the box, opens his body, and tucks the ball into the bottom right!
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83 min: It should be three. Barnes breezes down the left. He shoots low and hard towards the bottom right. Alisson parries sensationally … then makes an even more outstanding stop from Vardy, who was in the process of slamming home from an angle on the right. The post helps a little, but Allison has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime. He’d been playing well before that clanger, as well.
GOAL! Leicester City 2-1 Liverpool (Vardy 81)
Another Allison catastrophe! A long ball over the top. Alisson comes racing out to blooter clear! But Kabak is preparing to hoick away, too. The pair clatter into each other, and Vardy walks the ball into the unguarded net! That is beyond ludicrous, especially in the wake of the Manchester City debacle!
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80 min: But it turns out that Firmino was playing everyone onside by his toenail. The goal stands!
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GOAL! Leicester City 1-1 Liverpool (Maddison 79)
Maddison curls it in low, the ball going straight through a ruck of players and into the bottom right! But Amartey is offside, and he had made a move towards the ball. The flag goes up. VAR will check.
78 min: The foul was as close as can be to a penalty … without conceding one. But it doesn’t matter, because …
76 min: Leicester have responded wonderfully to going behind. Barnes dribbles down the left and goes over Thiago’s clumsy leg. This is just outside the white line, by a millimetre or so. Or at least as far as the naked eye can tell. The referee gives a free kick, but VAR is going to check.
74 min: Before the kick is taken, Perez comes on for Albrighton. Then the corner’s sent straight out of play by Maddison, whose dead-ball delivery has been uncharacteristically poor so far.
73 min: Alexander-Arnold takes. Vardy clears. Leicester have defended well this afternoon; they could do nothing about the goal. The hosts fly up the other end, Ricardo winning a corner down the left off Kabak.
72 min: Once again, Maddison’s delivery is poor and an easy gather for Alisson. Liverpool fly up the other end, winning a corner on the left.
71 min: Kabak picks up a yellow card on debut for not very much, going shoulder to shoulder with Barnes down the inside left. A free kick for Leicester, in a dangerous position just to the side of the Liverpool box.
70 min: Wijnaldum drives down the inside-left channel and lays off to Jones on the inside. Jones tries to replicate Firmino’s balletic spin, but can’t quite pull it off.
69 min: That had been coming, in terms of territory and possession anyway. Schmeichel hasn’t been forced into too much action, but he could do nothing about that. A gentle reminder that the reigning champions are not half bad when they get their game on.
GOAL! Leicester City 0-1 Liverpool (Salah 67)
This is an astonishing goal. Alexander-Arnold has a dig from distance on the right. Soyuncu blocks. The ball breaks back to Alexander-Arnold, who bursts down the right and cuts back for Firmino. He’s surrounded by three defenders, so pirouettes on the ball, rolling it back for Salah, who opens his body and steers calmly into the top left. Fine finish, but what an assist!
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66 min: Thiago, Mane and Alexander-Arnold draw some pretty triangles down the right, but there’s nobody in the middle for any of them to find, and the move eventually peters out.
64 min: Jones floats a curler in from the left, but it flies harmlessly between Firmino and Salah, easy pickings for Schmeichel.
63 min: Liverpool aren’t creating, while Leicester are struggling to retain possession. A bit of a stalemate.
62 min: The second corner is half-cleared by Leicester, but Liverpool keep them pushed back in their final third.
61 min: Alexander-Arnold, tight on the right touchline, sprays a delicious crossfield pass towards Robertson. Albrighton is forced to knock behind for a corner. Firmino meets it at the near post, his header pinging off Ndidi and out for another corner.
60 min: Thiago robs Barnes and releases Salah into acres down the right. But Salah overruns the ball, allowing Soyuncu to stride over and bash a clearance into the stand.
58 min: Mane beats Amartey down the left in elegant style, but can’t find anyone with his cross. Salah tries down the other flank, but his final ball is lacking as well. To be fair, neither player had many options in the middle.
57 min: Salah spins Ricardo and is brought down for his trouble. Alexander-Arnold whips the free kick towards the top right. It takes a slight deflection off the wall, beats Schmeichel, and crashes off the junction of the bar and post!
55 min: Leicester ship possession on the edge of their own box, Evans struggling to reach the ball. They’re fortunate that Mane dawdles with space ahead of him on the left, and that Thiago subsequently miscontrols.
53 min: Vardy threatens to break down the left but is stopped by a perfectly timed Kabak sliding tackle. While we’re on the subject of palindromic players, here’s SF Devereux: “I’m sure all the Liverpool fans reading will have fond memories of Ricky Otto and his excellently taken FA Cup goal against them for Birmingham.”
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51 min: Another poor effort, flat and easily cleared. But Tielemans finds some space on the left and slips Maddison away down the flank. Maddison’s low cross, meant for Vardy, is snaffled by Alisson. Liverpool break upfield, Robertson slashing wildly over from the edge of the box. A perfectly poised game, this.
50 min: But they’ll get another chance, because Maddison comes back at Liverpool down the same flank, and is upended by Robertson. This is a lot closer to the Liverpool box. Danger here.
49 min: Leicester line up on the edge of the box. Maddison takes the free kick. Straight into the arms of Alisson. Very poor.
48 min: A long pass down the left for Barnes. Alexander-Arnold tugs him back. Just a free kick. It looked more of a booking than Jones’s first-half yellow. Very strange.
47 min: Evans is still limping. It’s not immediately clear why he’s been sent out again. Nobody’s warming up, either, just in case, so the Leicester docs must be confident that he’ll run whatever it is off.
Liverpool get the second half underway. No changes. Evans, who limped off at the end of the first half, is still not moving too freely, though. Meanwhile here’s Richard Hirst: “Could we count the Fulham pair John Collins Collins John?” Nice try, but no.
Half-time palindromic postbag: “Marcelo Salas upfront, Eberechi Eze behind him, Ante Cilic in… the team (not sure where to be honest).” Jon Collin there, everyone; drab as a fool, aloof as a bard.
HALF TIME: Leicester City 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool have bossed the possession and territory stats, but it’s Jamie Vardy who has had the best opportunities. Three of them. Plenty for both managers to ponder at the break.
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45 min: Alexander-Arnold smacks the free kick into the wall. Very poor. Evans limps upfield. His Leicester team-mates are moving more freely, and suddenly Vardy is on his own, on the left-hand edge of the box. But he’s denied by a fine Alisson star-jump. Fine goalkeeping, a tribute to the bloke up the other end’s father.
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44 min: Mane drives towards the Leicester box and is brought down by Evans, who is booked and may also have tweaked something. Anyway, he decides he’s good to continue for now, and it’ll be a free kick just to the right of the D.
43 min: That’s technically a let-off for Liverpool, because the flag didn’t go up for offside. Vardy looked an inch or two ahead of Henderson, so it’d have been interesting had it gone in, given the tombola that is VAR.
42 min: … then Maddison suddenly hoicks a long ball down the middle, releasing Vardy! He races clear of Henderson, and upon reaching the edge of the box, releases a rising shot that hammers the top of the bar and out for a goal kick!
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39 min: Alexander-Arnold and Salah combine sweetly and smoothly down the right. The ball’s sent infield for Firmino, who releases Robertson down the left. Robertson enters the box and sends a drive towards the bottom right. Amartey deflects it wide of goal, and nothing comes of the resulting corner.
37 min: Tielemans nearly sends Barnes clear down the middle, Liverpool’s back line all over the shop. But Barnes can’t sort his feet out, and Alexander-Arnold is able to come over and put a stop to his plans.
36 min: Barnes teases Alexander-Arnold down the left. He works enough space to chip a cross into the centre. Henderson can’t reach it, and it falls towards Vardy, who tries to steer a downward header into the bottom right, but sends it straight into Alisson’s arms. Great chance!
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32 min: Tielemans curls a pass down the right for Albrighton. It should be easy for Robertson to mop up, but he takes a fresh-air swipe at the ball. Albrighton nearly gets in, but Alisson steps in to snaffle. Leicester are slowly working their way back into this.
30 min: … but Ndidi weakly heads Maddison’s corner wide right.