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Liverpool have one leg in Capital One Cup final

Substitute Jordan Ibe celebrates after opening the scoring for Liverpool against Stoke. Photo courtesy: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Substitute Jordan Ibe celebrates after opening the scoring for Liverpool against Stoke. Photo courtesy: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Substitute Jordan Ibe celebrates after opening the scoring for Liverpool against Stoke. Photo courtesy: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool dug deep to eke out a first leg advantage going into the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final against Stoke City. Jordan Ibe gave the Reds a vital away goal at the Brittania Stadium as Liverpool ended the game with a 1-0 scoreline.

Jurgen Klopp’s men will now host Stoke in the second leg at Anfield on January 26.

At Stoke, it was a typical Liverpool performance of old, full of endeavour, pressing and defensive resolve. It was similar to the kind of play that saw them get massive wins against Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton. However, it came at a cost.

Injuries plague Liverpool

Liverpool added Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren and Kolo Toure to an already burgeoning injury list. The Reds now have 11 players on the hospital table, with 25 injuries since Klopp took over.

Belgian striker Divock Origi was the last player to be sidelined in 2015, capping a list containing Martin Skrtel, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings, Jordan Henderson, Jordan Rossiter and Daniel Sturridge.

And now, with Coutinho, Toure and Lovren out of the short term picture, too, Liverpool are faced with a tremendous crisis with Arsenal and Manchester United to play in the next few weeks.

Stoke lose their identity

Meanwhile, Stoke City hoped they would be able to emulate the famous side of 1972 that won the Cup against Chelsea. However, it was not to be. Mark Hughes’ side, whose blend of style and steel has made them formidable opponents this season, forgot their core playing values and allowed Liverpool to run them ragged. As a result, men of the moment Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Bojan were largely peripheral in the game.

In the end, it was a 37th-minute strike by Jordan Ibe, who came on for Coutinho, that was enough to secure the advantage.

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