Liverpool may have started the League Cup semifinal against Stoke City as an underdog due to their below par performances of late in the EPL, but their first leg performance at the Britannia stadium on Tuesday was decent enough, which saw the visitors clinch the game 1-0.
Jordon Ibe's goal in the 37th minute has handed Liverpool huge edge in the semi final with the Reds set to host the Potters in the second leg at Anfield on 26 January.
Liverpool started the game very brightly as they won three corners with their high pressing game in the first five minutes. Liverpool even caught Stoke City defenders napping early on and asked the home side's goalie Jack Butland to make some decent saves.
The Reds, who were enjoying some good possession, were forced to make an early substitution as Philippe Coutinho suffered a hamstring injury and was replaced by Jordon Ibe in the 19th minute.
Despite some good possession in the first 30 minutes, Liverpool, who were playing without a genuine striker, threatened to score, but lacked in the final third. Stoke, on the other hand, did not get much chance to test the Liverpool's Belgian goalie, Simon Mignolet under the bar.
Even when Stoke players had the ball on their feet, Liverpool defenders closed down soon to make their move ineffective. Dejan Lovren, who was playing well for Liverpool, was the second unfortunate player for the Reds to be substituted in the 34th minute due to an injury. James Milner replaced Lovren and the formation had to be changed as per the situation and Lucas took upon the defensive role.
However such injuries did not stop Liverpool's pressing as they broke the deadlock with Ibe scoring in the 37th minute. Though the next few minutes of first half produced chances for both teams, the score ended 1-0 in favour of Liverpool at the conclusion of first half.
Stoke looked a better team in the second half as they began to press and pose problems for Liverpool. Stoke, who had some decent possession of the ball, failed to score the all important goal, despite their attempts.
With Stoke going forward to draw level, there were plenty of open spaces for Liverpool to work around in the second half and the Reds could have doubled their lead in the second half considering the number of chances they received, but failed.
The game was relatively open in the second half, however, neither team were able to score, which resulted in a Liverpool win.
With this result, the second leg between the two teams at Anfield holds utmost importance for Stoke, who needs to come up with an improved performance if they are to prevent Liverpool from reaching the finals of the League Cup.