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Liverpool 4-1 Luton Town: Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League leaders recover to win after first-half scare

Chiedozie Ogbene headed in at the back post to put Luton ahead at Anfield

Liverpool reasserted their control on the Premier League title race by overcoming a first-half scare to beat Luton 4-1 at Anfield.

Luton led through Chiedozie Ogbene after 12 minutes, as two early missed chances by Luis Diaz only served to highlight the absences of Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota for a depleted Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk’s headed equaliser from a corner turned the game for Liverpool 11 minutes after the restart, with Cody Gakpo nodding in 125 seconds later to put Liverpool in control.

Diaz scored a third with less than 20 minutes to go, before Harvey Elliott added another at the death to send Liverpool four points clear of second-placed Man City ahead of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley.
“It was just a firework – my god! Wonderful goals and a fantastic night,” said Jurgen Klopp after the game. “How the stadium and the team together changed that game was just exceptional.”
Asked about injuries, he added: “No. We don’t know anything. We have to see, but I said it before the game, as long as we have 11 players, we will go for it. Will we be big favourites? Definitely not.”

Luton, who held their own for the best part of an hour, suffer a third consecutive defeat and stay in the relegation zone due to Everton’s far superior goal difference.

How Liverpool recovered to go four points clear

Liverpool needed a fast start to put the crowd at ease with Man City hot on their heels after Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Brentford, but early missed chances by Diaz set a nervous tone at Anfield.

A ball over the top from Caoimhin Kelleher, standing in for the injured Allison in goal, put the forward through but his miscontrol saw the opening vanish and moments later he fired wide with his left foot in the box.

Luton punished Liverpool’s uncharacteristic wastefulness as Ogbene headed in at the back post after Kelleher saved Tahith Chong’s shot with his legs and the ball sat up for the winger to score his third league goal of the season.

Diaz had six shots in the first 35 minutes, hitting the target once, as he registered an Expected Goals tally of 0.67, compared to Luton’s 0.68 in the same period. Groans could be heard from the stands, which appeared to rile up Klopp on the touchline.

Luton took chances at the back in their build-up but Liverpool failed to capitalise and had little luck from set pieces either, unable to convert from their seven first-half corners.

The tide turned for Liverpool, ironically, from a corner as Van Dijk rose highest to meet Alexis Mac Allister’s delivery to level the score in front of the Kop. Barely had the supporters sat down before they were on their feet to celebrate another.

Connor Bradley took advantage of a Luton change as his quick throw found Mac Allister in space down the right and the midfielder picked out Gakpo this time, who nodded in to complete the turnaround.

Luton kept fighting but there was an inevitability to Liverpool after they took the lead, which helped settle Diaz’s nerves. He kept his cool after being played in by substitute Andrew Robertson to add a third with less than 20 minutes to go.

The visitors suffered a further blow when Alfie Doughty pulled up injured soon after Liverpool’s third. Issa Kabore was brought on to replace him.

In the final minute of normal time, Elliott marked his 100th appearance for the club with a goal to put Anfield in a jubilant mood ahead of Sunday’s trip to Wembley.

Klopp had made up with the crowd by full-time as he delivered his customary post-match fist pumps. No wonder, the victory ensures Liverpool will remain top until they return to league action.

Klopp: The stadium and the team changed the game together

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp:

“Exceptional game. I liked lots of the first half already, but I saw that the boys and the crowd didn’t like it as much. We started OK, you have to get used to an opponent, and we had this big chance from Luis Diaz.

“Everything was good until the final third and then we were in a rush. We told the boys at half-time that we had to be calmer in decisive moments.

“I wouldn’t say we were calmer, it was just a firework – my god! Wonderful goals and a fantastic night.

“How the stadium and the team together changed that game was just exceptional.”

On injuries, he added: “No. We don’t know anything. We have to see, but I said it before the game as long as we have 11 players, we will go for it.

“Will we be big favourites? Definitely not. But who cares, it’s a final. Since we played them [Chelsea] they have improved a lot and it will be tricky.”

Edwards: We saw Anfield and Liverpool at their best:

Luton boss Rob Edwards:

“First half performance was good. Second half I thought we saw Anfield and we saw Liverpool at their best – that full-throttle football and real quality as well. Their counter-pressing was brilliant.

“We probably played into the hands a little bit too often in some moments. But there was a noise and the fans were incredible and it was probably hard for the players to think. When they get those two quick goals it was hard to wrestle any sort of control back or get any momentum back in the game

“Huge credit to them for turning the game. Our players deserve a lot of credit because I thought we played well in the first half, but we kept going in the second half and trying to do the right things. We kept stepping forward and didn’t sit back – if we had it could have been more.

“Bits for us to learn and we can take a lot of positives. There were a lot of things that were good about us tonight.”

Elliott: Liverpool had to dig deep

Liverpool’s player of the match Harvey Elliott:

“As I said before the start of the game, Luton are a tough team and we had to dig deep and show the desire.

“The final bit wasn’t really there in the first half. But football is a game of two halves and in the second half we showed it. We had to be a lot better than we were in the first half.

“To be fair we’re not really thinking about the [Carabao Cup] final. It was about getting the job done tonight. It’s a big game at the weekend but tonight was a final. Each and every game is a final. It’s a busy period and we need to recover for the weekend.

“We are a resilient team and we want to fight for one another. It’s a hectic season. For the lads that are injured, we wish them well and we want them to come back quickly.”

Liverpool’s win in stats
  • Liverpool have recovered 22 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season, more than any other side, and their joint-most in a single campaign in the competition (also 22 in 2008-09).
  • With an average age of 25 years and 68 days, Liverpool named their youngest starting XI for a Premier League game since February 2018 against Southampton (24y 355d).
  • Luton are one of two sides, along with Sheffield United, yet to keep a clean sheet away from home in the Premier League this season. The Hatters have shipped 29 goals in 12 away games in the division this season, the joint-most of any side on the road, along with Bournemouth and Sheffield United.
  • There were just 125 seconds between Virgil van Dijk’s equaliser and Cody Gakpo putting Liverpool 2-1 ahead against Luton.