Stoke 0 – 1 Liverpool: Coutinho strikes late for victory

A stunning Philippe Coutinho strike gave Liverpool a dream start to their campaign at the Britannia Stadium.

77-days on from the Potters 6-1 thrashing of today’s opponents had a new-look team. Ibrahim Afellay, Marco van Ginkel and Glen Johnson making their debuts while Geoff Cameron deputised at centre back for the injured Ryan Shawcross.

It was a game of few chances and it was the hosts that looked the mostly to break the deadlock in the first half.

Walters played in van Ginkel, whose deflected cross was hooked clear by Martin Skrtel. Afellay’s volley was blocked by Clyne with appeals for handball but the ball feel to ex-Red Johnson, who blazed over from 12-yards

The Potters kept the ball well but just lacked that spark in the final third. Charlie Adam’s whipped free-kick was palmed away by Simon Mignolet and just after Mame Diouf’s header was deflected away danger.

Jack Butland was called into action when Skrtel got his head to a James Milner corner but the England U21 captain pulled off a comfortable save.

As the game became stretched Coutinho collected the ball, turned substitute Steve Sidwell before unleashing a curling effort into the top corner to send the away fans into frenzy.

Mark Hughes was looking at the positives despite the result. He told BBC Radio Stoke: “With the number of new players playing together for the first time I was rather encouraged.”

“I felt we should have had a penalty, Clyne has stopped it with both hands and was ten yards away.”

On Geoff Cameron he said: “I thought he was excellent. He’s a good athlete and gets around the pitch.”

He finished by saying Erik Pieters was taken off due to illness at the break.

Xherdan Shaqiri was pictured at the ground but Hughes remained coy over the clubs transfer activity: “I hope we can get one top top player – we’ll be alright.“

Stoke City: Butland, Johnson, Cameron, Muniesa, Pieters (Wollscheid), Whelan, van Ginkel, Adam (Sidwell), Afellay (Odemwingie), Walters, Diouf.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Skrtel, Lovren, Clyne, Henderson, Milner, Lallana (Can), Coutinho, Ibe (Firminho), Benteke.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Unofficial Man of the Match: Geoff Cameron

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