24 Sep Hull pay the penalty
An irrepressible Liverpool ran riot in a 5-1 win against a hapless and helpless 10-man Hull as the goals continued to rain in at Anfield.
James Milner scored two penalties, the brilliant performances of Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana were both rewarded with goals, while Sadio Mane was also on the scoresheet as substitute David Meyler converted the visitors’ only real chance.
It is early days but nine goals in two home appearances suggest the players are no longer impaired by fans’ expectation and the new-look old ground is starting to resemble a fortress again.
Of course much of that has to do with the mentality created by Jurgen Klopp.
No more so was it highlighted than by the manager’s decision to drop long-time first-choice goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to give summer signing Loris Karius his Premier League debut.
The German may not have managed a clean sheet but on days like these the goalkeeper, like most of the ground, can just stand and admire the quality in front of him.
Klopp wanted his team to be ‘angry’ at the thought Hull might come and try to take points off them but it was Tigers caretaker boss Mike Phelan who ended up being most annoyed.
Joel Matip headed over and Coutinho completely fluffed his kick five yards out allowing Ahmed Elmohamady to clear off the line, but that set the tone for a brilliant 19-minute spell in which Liverpool were almost unplayable.
Seventeen minutes in Coutinho picked up ball on the left and Roberto Firmino’s clever diagonal dummy run across Hull’s defence opened up space for his Brazil team-mate to pick out Lallana to slot home inside the far post.
Elmohamady had legitimately denied Coutinho earlier but resorted to illegal means when he stuck out an elbow to stop the playmaker’s goalbound shot, resulting in a red card for the defender and another confident penalty conversion from Milner.
Mane, after one shot deflected on to the crossbar, made it 3-0 in the 36th minute after a trademark Lallana turn earned the England midfielder enough space in the penalty area to slide a pass into his team-mate, who scored with a shot on the turn.
The numerically-disadvantaged Hull adopted a 4-5-0 formation in an attempt to stem the red tide.
They were still carved open by a brilliant pass from central defender Ragnar Klavan inside makeshift full-back Meyler but no-one could get on the end of Milner’s cross through the six-yard box, while Gini Wijnaldum was denied at point-blank range by David Marshall.
Phelan, ‘celebrating’ his 54th birthday, saw his beleaguered side pull one back when Meyler rammed home from a corner just after the break.
However, there was no real sense anything would change and Coutinho made sure of that with a dipping 20-yard shot less than 60 seconds later.
All this was achieved without Liverpool’s premier striker Daniel Sturridge but his arrival off the bench saw the England international immediately draw a foul from Andrew Robertson, allowing Milner to score his second from the spot and take Liverpool’s tally to 24 goals in eight matches this season.