Two own goals from Wout Faes helped Liverpool to a 2-1 comeback win over Leicester which moves the Reds to within two points of fourth place in the Premier League.
Liverpool’s first outing at Anfield since before the World Cup got off to a nightmare start just four minutes in when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall carved through the home side’s defence before bumping a finish past Alisson.
But after end-to-end action, Leicester centre-back Faes gave Liverpool a massive helping hand, first somehow slashing Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross up and over Foxes goalkeeper Danny Ward (38) before sending the ball into his own net again (45) after Darwin Nunez’s chip hit a post.
“An absolute nightmare for him and a nightmare for Leicester,” said Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher on co-commentary – one of three other players to have the unwanted record of scoring two own goals in a Premier League match.
The entertaining encounter served up chances for both sides after the break too, with Jordan Henderson, Mohamed Salah and Nunez culpable in front of the Kop and Harvey Barnes and Dewsbury-Hall going close at the other end, but those own goals ultimately proved decisive.
Liverpool’s fourth league win on the spin keeps them in sixth but they close in on Tottenham in the race for Champions League qualification and, with new signing Cody Gakpo watching on from the stands, they will be optimistic about what’s to come in 2023. Leicester stay 13th.
Liverpool: Alisson (5), Alexander-Arnold (8), Matip (6), Van Dijk (6), Robertson (5), Henderson (6), Elliott (6), Thiago (6), Salah (6), Nunez (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6)
Subs: Keita (6), Tsimikas (6), Gomez (N/A), Bajcetic (N/A)
Leicester: Ward (6), Castagne (5), Amartey (6), Faes (2), Thomas (6), Ndidi (6), Soumare (6), Perez (6), Dewsbury-Hall (7), Barnes (7), Daka (6)
Subs: Vardy (6), Tielemans (6), Iheanacho (5)
Player of the match: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
How Faes’ own goals helped Liverpool to victory
There had been pre-match tributes to Pele and former Liverpool striker David Johnson but when the action got under way it was the visitors who looked sharpest and a simple layoff from Patson Daka suddenly saw space open up for Dewsbury-Hall to charge through and score a shock opener.
It was alarming defending from a Liverpool side who have looked more vulnerable than in previous seasons and when Daka went off with a hamstring problem soon after, one of the Reds’ chief tormentors, Jamie Vardy, forced Alexander-Arnold into a desperate block to prevent Barnes turning in a second.
- Liverpool made one change from the win over Aston Villa, with Harvey Elliott starting in place of Fabinho, who was not in the squad
- Leicester made two changes from their Boxing Day defeat to Newcastle, with Ayoze Perez and Wilfred Ndidi coming into the team, Youri Tielemans dropping to the bench and Dennis Praet out injured
The open contest saw chances for Liverpool early on, too, with Nunez’s cutback fired over by Salah before the Egyptian had a strike ruled out for an offside flag against Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. But in the space of seven minutes before half time the complexion of the game changed.
On replays it was clear to hear Ward shout ‘Keeper’s’ before Faes wildly swung a leg at Alexander-Arnold’s low but innocuous cross, although despite that mistake the Belgian could count himself a little unfortunate to see the ball loop into his own goal in such extraordinary fashion.
He again lacked composure for his second own goal, turning in as he tried to clear the ball after Nunez’s clever chip had hit the woodwork.
Nunez was inches away on that occasion but cut a frustrated figure in the second half as his six-game goal drought for club and country stretched on, with one miss from the edge of the box particularly poor. He has now had 13 shots without success in his two Premier League games since the World Cup.
There were encouraging signs from his link-up play with Salah, though, and on a night when Liverpool weren’t at their best, they will take positives such as that – and the boost to their top-four push – as comfort heading into the New Year.
Klopp: The win is very important – but we have to play better
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to Sky Sports: “Obviously the early goal we concede is not helpful. We are here for results. We won the game, three points, that’s very important. In our best phases, when we were super stable, we had performances similar to tonight, maybe not exactly like that.
“But we lost balls in the wrong moments when you play a counter-attacking team, we were too open in these moments. We had to change the formation this morning, which is never helpful. We had good spells, forced them to score the own goals – a pity for the boy. The second half was better, we were higher up but they still had their moments because we were too open. We have to take the result momentum but we have to play better.”
On Fabinho leaving the group on Friday morning to support his partner giving birth: “When the games come that quick you have one session, the session we had yesterday. This morning was just to be set-pieces and then we got the news and sent him home. Not perfect but we played in that formation, we can do that. That early goal is obviously not helpful and you could see the impact it had. We conceded a goal from a goal-kick because we were too deep. The reaction I’d have loved to see was we go higher up and have to challenge in other space but the reaction was we stepped back.”
Rodgers backs “strong character” Faes to bounce back
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers to Sky Sports: “It was much better [than Boxing Day]. We started the game how we wanted to. Scored a fantastic goal and looked really dangerous. Maybe we came off it a fraction once we scored. But we still looked comfortable. Then obviously the two goals come from nowhere. We were always a threat in the game right until the very end. We’re just disappointed we didn’t get something because I felt we deserved something from the game.
“[Wout Faes] has been brilliant since he came in. Every performance he’s been outstanding. He’s gone away with Belgium and didn’t have any minutes whatsoever, so this is one of your examples of coming back and maybe taking a few games to get going. He’s just unfortunate tonight. The first goal, I’m not sure you’ll see it go in like that again. But he’s a strong character and he’ll get over it.”
Opta stats – Slow starts and comebacks
- Leicester have lost 10 of their last 12 away Premier League games against Liverpool at Anfield (D2).
- Liverpool have won six Premier League matches in 2022 after conceding the first goal, the joint most of any side this calendar year (also six for Spurs).
- This was the 50th Premier League win of 2022 by a team who conceded the first goal of the game – the only two years in Premier League history in which there have been 50 such wins have come in the last two years (also 57 in 2021).
- Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s fourth-minute goal for Leicester was the seventh Premier League goal Liverpool have conceded in the opening five minutes of games in 2022, three more than any other side. Indeed, it’s the joint most any team has done so in a single year, along with Sunderland in 2000 and Blackburn Rovers in 2009.
- Leicester’s Wout Faes became the fourth player with two own goals in a single Premier League game, after Jamie Carragher (1999, Liverpool vs Man Utd), Michael Proctor (2003, Sunderland vs Charlton) and Jonathan Walters (2013, Stoke vs Chelsea).
Liverpool’s next fixture, a 5.30pm kick-off away to Brentford on Monday January 2, is also live on Sky Sports, while Leicester host Fulham at 7.45pm on Tuesday January 3.