Coutinho usurps Juninho as Premier League's most prolific Brazilian

"First half wasn't very good, it was very hard".

With Klopp's side trailing to Jonathan Walters' 44th-minute header, goals from half-time substitutes Coutinho and Roberto Firmino turned the game on its head midway through the second half yesterday.

In the end everything came together for Liverpool but this was a odd way to win three points, as Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino came off the bench to breathe fresh life into a team who had been sleepwalking towards defeat.

Janusz Michallik feels Liverpool's 2-1 win over Stoke was a statement win in their hunt for the Premier League top four.

The Reds sit third in table, nine points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal, who have three games in hand.

Meanwhile, Stoke's fourth consecutive loss means they drop to 13th, eight points above the drop zone.

His absence during the Africa Cup of Nations illustrated just how much of an impact he has made during his debut season on Merseyside, with the Reds failing to win in the top-flight during his unavailability.

The hastily organised post-season friendly will see the English Premier League club return to Australia after games in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne since 2013, as well as a Legends clash at Homebush in 2016 against an Australian Legends outfit.

Stoke: Grant 7; Johnson 6, Shawcross, 6 Martins Indi 6, Pieters 6; Shaqiri 7, Allen N/A, Cameron 6, Arnautovic 7; Walters 7, Berahino 6. Coutinho has been battling an illness all week, so Klopp wanted to avoid playing him.

But referee Mike Dean waved play on and Stoke took the lead soon after.

Stoke stole the initiative just before the interval with a goal that left Klopp furious. "It didn't feel like I want to do it [take them off] more, each week or something like this, it's not nice, but it's the job".

Stoke examined Liverpool's surprise adoption of a back three with continual early pressure but the very first shot came from Divock Origi, whose attempt flew well wide after 18 minutes.

The forward is set to travel to London tomorrow where he will undergo surgery to correct the problem he sustained against Everton during the Merseyside derby on April 1.

"The way he made the goal was quality, pure quality!" the Dutchman told Liverpoolfc.com.

Coutinho caught the equaliser using a fantastic finish from within the penalty area and only two minutes after the visitors were in front in spectacular style.

However, Klopp believes Liverpool have shown they are capable of performing in the Senegal international's absence - pointing to the chances created without Mane in the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth.

  • Julie Sanders