EPL: Liverpool survive Stoke City scare
- Author: Julie Sanders Apr 09, 2017,
Apr 09, 2017, 5:18
Coutinho started Liverpool's 2-1 victory over Stoke City on the bench, after being forced off midweek when he complained of feeling unwell at half-time.
Coutinho's drilled finished levelled matters in the 70th minute and Firmino sealed the win two minutes later with a wonderful dipping strike over Lee Grant.
Liverpool's Premier League record without Mane was worrying - no wins this season - but together the Brazilians had provided 17 goals and 15 assists between them.
The introduction of Coutinho - who had been suffering from a bug for most of the week - along with Firmino at the interval prompted a complete turnaround with two goals within two minutes midway through the second-half.
Stoke nearly made it 2-2 when Saido Berahino slid in for Arnautovic's teasing cross and Mignolet made a superb save, but there was no way back for Hughes's side.
Meanwhile, Stoke's fourth consecutive loss means they drop to 13th, eight points above the drop zone.
Shortly before half-time Liverpool were denied strong penalty appeals when Woodburn went down under Pieters' challenge and Stoke promptly scored on the counter-attack.
The German surprisingly left both on the bench in favour of youngsters Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold but with Liverpool trailing at halftime to a Jonathan Walters header he reverted to Plan B despite fitness worries over both.
Still it required more brilliance from Mignolet who somehow scrambled across his goal to keep out Saido Berahino's close-range shot.
"And we needed Simon Mignolet with two outstanding saves, the second one was the best I have ever seen - the save of the year".
Coutinho's corner was headed onto the crossbar by Lovren on the hour, before he made a decision to take matters into his own hands.
"Second half was really good but we played a big gamble on a low battery bringing on Firmino and Coutinho", said Klopp.
But after 45 minutes, the Brazilians came on and won us the game. The first and the second, goal.
Philippe Coutinho has scored his 30th Premier League to overtake Juninho as the division's most prolific Brazilian player.
Stoke seemed deflated after conceding the second and looked exhausted following their endeavours for the vast majority of the game.