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Leicester 2, Liverpool 0: Wonderstrike and Defensive Mistakes Undo Reds

Toothless in the front and malarkey at the back as Liverpool succumb to a two-nil defeat against the league leaders.

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Leicester 2 Vardy 59', 71'

Liverpool 0

Liverpool's attacking struggles continue as they fail to muster any significant offense against Leicester City, while the Foxes demonstrate what a difference a striker in form makes.

Jürgen Klopp went with a similar team and formation to the one that lost but eventually progressed to the League Cup final against Stoke last weekend, with Nathaniel Clyne and Dejan Lovren replacing Jon Flanagan and Kolo Toure.

The game started in a ferocious tempo, with both sides pressing aggressively, and Leicester got the better of the first exchanges, as Mahrez put a 20-yard curler just wide of Simon Mignolet's far post.

Robert Huth was lucky to escape unpunished on five minutes, as he slammed a seemingly intentional elbow into Adam Lallana's head when the ball was played into the Liverpool attacker. Andre Marriner did nothing, setting the standard for a somewhat absent refereeing performance.

The home side's pressing soon lead to a big chance, as Jordan Henderson was robbed in midfield and Jamie Vardy was played in down the left side, slid past Dejan Lovren and swung in a cross that sailed over Mamadou Sakho's head. Shinji Okazaki got his head to the ball, but Simon Mignolet was equal to the finish, pushing it onto the bar and over.

Minutes later the centre-backs nearly combined to put Leicester in, as Lovren's poor touch allowed Vardy an opportunity to pounce and Sakho nearly fluffed his clearance. Liverpool then went close on the counter, but Emre Can put the ball straight at Kasper Schmeichel from an offside position 6 yards out.

The game was a messy affair at this point, with most of the action taking place in the middle third of the pitch. Twenty minutes would pass before the next series of chances occurred, first as Christian Fuchs nearly put the ball past his own keeper with a headed clearance, and then another long-range effort from Mahrez. Alberto Moreno sloppily threw the ball straight to the opposition in his own half, and Lovren made a sliding challenge to tackle the ball away. Mahrez collected the rebound and sent in a dipping, swerving drive from 25 yards that Mignolet did well to palm over the bar.

Moreno blasted the ball high over the bar instead of crossing after he was played in down the left channel by Roberto Firmino and both sides went to half time scoreless.

The visitors started asserting themselves in the early goings of the second half, and the best piece of interplay on the night lead to a Can finish from 12 yards that was blocked for a corner. It was a move that contained precision passing and simultaneous movement, and finished with five Liverpool players in the opposition box, all of which has been missing from Liverpool's attacks recently.

In a moment of foreshadowing, Leicester reminded the Reds of their danger on the counter attack, as Clyne had to deal with the double threat of Mahrez and Vardy on his own. Moreno fired in a snapshot that Schmeichel beat away at the near post, and Firmino smacked a left-footed volley over the bar after a sustained period of pressure.

Then it all went pear-shaped in spectacular fashion. Mahrez sprang Vardy with a 50 yard lobbed pass, and the Premier League top scorer hammered an unstoppable half volley into the top corner from 25 yards. It was a goal of the season candidate and one Mignolet could never be expected to stop. Against the run of play, Liverpool found themselves a goal down, and the air went out of them.

Vardy scored his second ten minutes later. Sakho completely misjudged the bounce of a looping ball, leading to a weak clearance that Okazaki picked up. His shot from 25 yards was blocked by the Frenchman, but the ball was only diverted into the path of Vardy, who tucked it home from 6 yards.

Liverpool were unable to muster any sort of comeback for the remaining twenty minutes, and Leicester cruised to a two-goal win.

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A disappointing loss for sure, even though an away fixture to the league leaders - a side that is excellent at imposing their frenetic pace on the game - was always going to be tough. Liverpool didn't play all that bad, really, but the complete lack of a pointy end to their game meant they were always going to be susceptible to a wondergoal or defensive mistakes. As it turned out, they got both.

Simon Mignolet kept Liverpool in it in the first half with a pair of terrific saves and could do nothing about either goal. Lovren and Sakho looked completely out of sync, and were clearly stressed by the aggressive Leicester strikers, leading to both positioning and on-the-ball mistakes. Lucas Leiva quietly put in a fairly solid performance, keeping the league leaders from creating much through the middle. James Milner was industrious as ever, Can made poor decisions in the attacking third but at least kept the ball better than he has recently, and Jordan Henderson was extremely careless with his passing on the night. Adam Lallana faded badly after a solid first half, and Roberto Firmino was anonymous throughout. The substitutes were unable to make much of an impact, as the team seemed to mostly have given up by the time they came on, but at least Joe Allen looked assured and confident and should probably be starting soon.

Despite talk at yesterday's press conference, Liverpool's top four hopes are well and truly over for the season, and the Europa League places are going to be a challenge as well. Continuing to progress in the cup competitions might be the club's best hope for European participation next season, and West Ham and Augsburg are waiting in the FA Cup and Europa League respectively in the coming weeks. But first, an opportunity to bounce back against Sunderland.

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