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Stoke City 0, Liverpool 3: First Thoughts

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It was hardly an easy 3-0 win, but a 3-0 win nonetheless.

Stoke City v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Stoke City 0:
Liverpool 3: Mane 17’, Salah 77’ 83’

  • Pre-Match Thought: Dominic Solanke with the surprise start—his first ever in the Premier League! Meanwhile Mohamed Salah gets a much-needed rest. Hopefully we won’t need him to get over the line tonight.
  • It’s a very different feel from the last two times out, with a much lower overall intensity, and much more time for the orange-clad reds on the ball.
  • GOAL! Liverpool go in front on their first real show of intent on the evening. The home crowd is upset after it looks like the ball goes out of play, but Gomez just about kept the ball in play before picking out Solanke on a cut back from the byline. The former Chelsea man took a touch and played in Mane, who manages to chip the keeper from close range. Roberto Firmino could have had the goal to his name, but instead saw the finish over the line without applying the final touch.
  • That goal lit a fire under Stoke City. The home side has gone from hardly having a touch in the attacking third to downright dominant in the last ten minutes or so. They must have seen our ability—or lack thereof—to defend a lead.
  • Solanke, already with an assist on his big league debut, nearly opens up his account after being played through with a 1-2 with Firmino at the edge of the box, but can’t beat the keeper.
  • More controversy, as Mignolet clatters through Diouf just outside the box. It could have been a straight red, but the keeper gets off light with a yellow. It’s probably the right call because of the close proximity of the other Liverpool defenders, but it would have been hard to argue with a red there. A real head-scratcher from Waffles, there.
  • Liverpool have been on their heels since scoring, but Mane really should have put the Reds up by two. He’s played through clear from midfield, beats the keeper, but not the woodwork, and Liverpool maintain their narrow advantage.
  • Halftime Thought: Boos ring out at the Britannia for the perceived slights from the less-than-stellar officiating crew. We get it, Martin Atkinson and that. Liverpool were completely in control up until scoring, but completely out of control after. For the third game in a row, we find ourselves attempting to defend a lead, and getting cut to ribbons at the back. Let’s hope we can find a way to see this one out (probably by scoring 2-3 more).
  • Ooof. Joe Allen nearly got his sweet revenge. His shot going just wide of the post.
  • Emre Can picks up a well deserved yellow after hauling down Shaqiri when the dangerous winger was threatening to go on a run.
  • And now it’s Gini Wijnaldum’s turn to go into the book. More dangerous set plays to endure. Joy.
  • And now Ox! Oxlade-Chamberlain takes an elbow in the face, and retaliates with a push on the touchline. Klopp rushes over to give him a bear hug and tell him everything will be OK and I’m in love.
  • Double change for the Reds. Mohamed Salah comes on for Solanke, and James Milner comes on for Ox.
  • Holy fuck Liverpool are living dangerously. Crouch nods down for the other former Liverpool player, Allen, who hits the first time volley over the bar from about 8 yards.
  • And Mane picks up a yellow, this time for taking down Allen as he was about to get clear into space.
  • GOAL!! MOHAMED SALAH!!! Sadio Mane makes a great run to the byline, picking out Salah on the opposite side of the box, and the Egyptian hits a thunderous and unstoppable left-footed volley that was only ever going to end up in the back of the net. 2-0, thank you very much.
  • GOAL!!! Salah is officially scoring for fun. Long may it continue! He beats a defender to a long ball over the top, and then coolly slots it home. Easy, right?
  • Klopp makes his final sub, Jordan Henderson coming on for Mane.
  • Into stoppage time now, and Liverpool are really trying to throw away their already undeserved clean sheet. The home side have several great cracks to finally score a goal tonight, but I guess it’s not to be.
  • Final Whistle Thought: Whether he starts or comes off the bench, it makes little difference, Mohamed Salah is the man. He single handedly turned what was a nervy affair for over an hour of play into a ho-hum 3-0 win.

We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.