Belfast Telegraph

Leicester City 1-3 Liverpool: Steven Gerrard scores to inspire victory over Foxes

By Kevin Garside

There were no awkward questions for Brendan Rodgers last night. The Liverpool manager picked his captain from the start and Steven Gerrard rewarded him with a vintage display and a goal.

Three points against a Leicester side reduced to 10 men for the last half hour might not represent a full recovery from recent ills, but it constituted a second win on the spin for the first time this season to lower stress levels at Anfield.

Liverpool were confronted by a determined Leicester, who were dangerous enough to take the lead and who battled to the end.

But with Gerrard at the heart of everything, adding a fourth goal of the season and the 177th of his club career, Liverpool cruelly exposed the home team's lack of a clinical edge.

If Liverpool were unfortunate to fall behind in the 22nd minute following a mistake by Simon Mignolet they enjoyed the roll of the dice to be level four minutes later through Adam Lallana.

Thereafter there was a sense of resurgence, typified by Gerrard's sweet strike on the hour.

A Jordan Henderson finish for the third iced the cake.

It had been quite a week at Liverpool. How distant must seem the cut and thrust of title contention last season, replaced this term by dispute and uncertainty, plus the curve ball that is Mario Balotelli.

Gerrard, around whom Ulsterman Rodgers has circled delicately, was returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Philippe Coutinho.

Glen Johnson, who appears to occupy opposing space to Gerrard in the contract extension business, retained his place despite the tensions around his negotiations, or lack of.

Balotelli was absent with a groin strain, which covers a multitude of sins when it suits, as it surely did in the aftermath of the social media fiasco in which he managed to invite accusations of racism, some going indeed for an Afro-Italian adopted son of a Jewish mother.

In the eight matches since the marvellous eclipse of Manchester United in September, Leicester have garnered only two points and began the evening looking up at every other team in the Premier League.

They finished it there too with Liverpool up to eighth.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, like Rodgers, had built a deal of goodwill at the club after leading them into the promised land and was thought to enjoy the positive patronage of the Thai owners. But love is a fickle beast in this environment and neither he, nor Rodgers for that matter, could readily tolerate a reverse.

Rodgers enlivened the Gerrard debate by playing him in an advanced role three days after it was considered politic not to start him.

Odd, you might think, that a player, who according to the manager needs to be nursed through his advanced years, should be removed from the more gentile holding role for the hustle and bustle of the final third.

Leicester went ahead in the 22nd minute with Mignolet at fault, failing to deal with Leonardo Ulloa's shot. The ball rebounded off the keeper's left-hand post and in off his prone body.

If Liverpool were out of luck on that occasion they had their share four minutes later with the equaliser. A hopeful cross flung in from the right was headed away by Wes Morgan straight to the feet of Lallana, who met it with enthusiasm.

With the second half 10 minutes old, Gerrard started and finished a move, playing a one-two with Henderson before releasing Raheem Sterling with a super pass.

Sterling's cross was cleared but only into the path of Gerrard, who wrapped that lethal right foot around the ball to send it arrow-like past Kasper Schmeichel.

It got worse for Leicester with the red card for captain Morgan, who wrestled Rickie Lambert to the ground.

Liverpool added a late third through Henderson.

Leicester City: Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Wasilewski, Morgan, Konchesky (Albrighton 80), Mahrez, James, Cambiasso, Schlupp, Ulloa, Vardy. Subs: Drinkwater, King, Hamer, Moore, Knockaert, Wood.

Goals: Mignolet (22, og)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo (Moreno 45), Skrtel, Toure, Johnson, Henderson, Lucas, Sterling (Lovren 95), Gerrard, Lallana (Allen 70), Lambert. Subs: Brad Jones, Coutinho, Can, Markovic.

Goals: Lallana (26), Gerrard (54), Henderson (83)

Man of the match: Steven Gerrard

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

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