Leicester 1 Liverpool 0: Reds suffer huge slip-up in Premier League title race after Mo Salah misses penaltyDecember 28, 2021
AFTER all his moaning, Jurgen Klopp had a genuine reason to have the hump.
Yet the grumpiest Premier League manager of them all, whose constant whining is becoming tiresome, could not point the finger at schedules or fellow managers.
He had to look no further than his team who made a complete mess of a fixture against an out-of-form Leicester side with nine players injured.
This was a devastating blow to Liverpool’s title hopes. At their halfway point of the season, they trail Manchester City by six points although the gap could increase to nine tonight if the champions win at Brentford.
When Mo Salah misses three gilt-edged chances inside the space of a few seconds – including a penalty – you know you’re in trouble.
Salah’s surprise failure to increase his tally of 22 goals was only half the story for Liverpool who, nine days after the 2-2 draw with Spurs, gave City another title boost with a lethargic, disjointed performance.
To make matters worse for Liverpool, it was an ex Evertonian who scored. Ademola Lookman struck what proved to be the winner three minutes after coming on as a substitute.
At the end of the season, if Liverpool just miss out, they will look back on this game as a chance missed as Leicester were properly there for the taking.
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Equally, though, it looks as though City are going to run away with the title.
And after a rough few weeks, Brendan Rodgers needed a decent result and it was all the more sweeter as it came against his former club, who knocked his team out of the Carabao Cup a week earlier.
While Leicester were thrashed 6-3 at Manchester City on Boxing Day, Liverpool had their feet up as the home game with Leeds was postponed due to Covid 19 cases at the Yorkshire club.
Aside from a long injury list, Leicester did not have a recognised central defender with Daniel Amartey and Wildred Ndidi both being played out of position.
But after a rocky start, the pair did pretty well considering the quality of the strikeforce they were facing.
Yet there was a feeling of resignation among the home fans once Ndidi clipped Salah and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot.
Salah looked full of confidence, as you would expect, considering he had stuck away his previous nine penalties.
But it was not a particularly good strike and in fairness, the strike was well read by keeper Kasper Schmeichel who flung himself to his right to save.
While the rebound appeared to fall perfectly for the Egyptian, it probably stayed in the air a fraction too long and Salah could only manage to head against the bar.
Despite then being given a third bite of the cherry, Salah failed to get a proper connection to the ball.
Salah had become the first Liverpool player to miss a penalty in the Premier League since October 2017, when he missed at home against Huddersfield Town in a 3-0 win.
Liverpool had scored their last 21 Premier League penalties and this miss could prove to be incredibly costly.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain nearly scored with a chip intended for the head of Jordan Henderson but Schmeichel scrambled the ball away after nearly being caught out
And the Danish keeper then delivered the best save of the night to spectacular deny Salah after a defensive mix-up
Jamie Vardy had barely seen the ball as he was being well marshalled by Van Dijk, who was back in the team after being sidelined with Covid.
Yet there was one moment when Vardy tore past Kostas Tsimikas in a flash and could sense the opener but his goal-bound effort was blocked by Joel Matip.
This moment gave Leicester some much needed confidence and they started to look more dangerous either side of half-time.
Yet Sadio Mane wasted a chance you would expect him to normally bury into the net after a clever pass from Diogo Jota.
Mane sent that effort flashing over the bar, hammered another shot straight at Schmeichel and from that moment – and Rodgers’ substitutions – the game changed.
Lookman was introduced, along with Youri Tielemans, and soon after, he stuck the ball over the right arm of Alisson.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall played his part in the build-up by sliding a pass through to Lookman who skipped past Matip and then shot before Van Dijk could get close.
Liverpool pressed and when Van Dijk thought he had squeezed his shot into the corner, man-of-the-match Schmeichel stuck his foot out to somehow save.
It was a terrible night for Liverpool and Klopp. In contrast, in what has been an underwhelming season for Rodgers, this could be a result which – maybe gets them back on track.
At least, it will get some of Leicester’s fans off his back.
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