Liverpool 2 Leicester City 1: Coutinho shines as Klopp’s men prosper

Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho were on target for Liverpool as they beat Leicester City 2-1 to win the Premier League Asia Trophy.

Philippe Coutinho treated Liverpool fans in Hong Kong to a performance full of promise for the new season as the Reds beat Leicester City 2-1 in the Premier League Asia Trophy final.

Having overcome Crystal Palace 2-0 in their previous game of the pre-season tournament, Jurgen Klopp’s side looked sharp and cohesive as they scored two first-half goals following Islam Slimani’s 12th-minute opener for Leicester.

Mohamed Salah combined with Coutinho to equalise and the Brazilian playmaker scored a superb solo effort to put Liverpool ahead before half-time.

With three weeks to go until the start of the season, Klopp will have been pleased to see his forwards linking up intuitively, with winger Salah gelling well with his new team-mates after joining from Roma in June.

Leicester’s new signing Harry Maguire endured a tough test in defence and manager Craig Shakespeare will be looking for more from his players in their forthcoming friendlies, which include a meeting with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Coutinho in particular excited the crowd at Hong Kong Stadium and he rifled a low shot into the body of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel from 25 yards after three minutes.

Leicester attacked incisively in the early stages and, after good work down the left flank by Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez – linked with a possible move away from the club during the close-season – crossed for Slimani to powerfully head home at the far post.

Eight minutes later, Salah set off on a probing run down the Liverpool right and he cut inside before squaring to Coutinho, who played a delightful chipped pass into the box where the Egyptian timed his run perfectly and nodded the ball past Schmeichel into the bottom-left corner.

Liverpool took control thereafter and Coutinho delighted the crowd in the 44th minute when he broke down the left before cutting inside, sending a thunderbolt of a shot into the far corner from the edge of the box.

Klopp made four changes at half-time, sending on Ragnar Klavan, Marko Grujic, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, and Grujic hit a spectacular volley over the crossbar in the 49th minute as Liverpool picked up where they left off in the second period.

Having recovered from their lapse early in the first half, Liverpool’s defence coped well with the threat posed by Leicester’s two-pronged attack and Loris Karius did well to deny Vardy, rushing out to claim the ball from the England striker’s feet.

Vardy sent a shot just wide moments later but as the second half wore on both teams began to suffer the effects of the warm temperatures and there were few chances at either end as Liverpool ran out comfortable winners.

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07 2017

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