Premier League
StokeStoke City0LiverpoolLiverpool1

Stoke City 0-1 Liverpool

By Shamoon HafezBBC Sport
Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho was a nominee for the PFA Player of the Year award last season

Philippe Coutinho's stunning long-range strike gave Liverpool a late victory over Stoke on the opening weekend.

The match was a lacklustre Premier League encounter until the Brazilian's magic four minutes from the end.

Former Liverpool man Glen Johnson could have put his new side in front in the first half, but skewed his shot over the bar from 12 yards out.

Charlie Adam's long-range free-kick almost sneaked in at the back post but was pushed away by Simon Mignolet.

These two sides met on the final day of last season, when Stoke's 6-1 win was Liverpool's heaviest defeat since 1963.

'Wonderful' Coutinho goal delights Rodgers

It meant Mark Hughes' side ended the campaign with 54 points, their highest total in the top flight.

New season, new problems

Christian Benteke
Most of Benteke's touches came outside the box

Despite last season's embarrassing result, Liverpool's owners backed Brendan Rodgers and kept him as manager, so have things improved?

Although victorious this time round, Liverpool have work to do on how to bed together their attacking players.

Christian Benteke touched the ball just five times in the penalty area, and will need to improve as he faces competition from substitute Roberto Firmino - who had a run out in the last 15 minutes - and Danny Ings. Daniel Sturridge will add to the fight for places when he returns from injury next month.

Meanwhile, Stoke are an uncompromising outfit under Mark Hughes, with new boys Ibrahim Afellay and Marco van Ginkel giving extra class to a side who were undone by a special strike.

Ibrahim impresses and the Christian conundrum

Afellay was brought in on a free transfer from Barcelona and looks to be a player who will excite the Britannia Stadium crowd. His neat footwork was generously applauded by the fans, while his composure on the ball and attacking prowess will give Stoke extra incentive in the final third.

Liverpool full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and 18-year-old Joe Gomez both impressed, while the experienced James Milner and Stoke's on-loan Van Ginkel showed they are not afraid to scrap in midfield, but also looked assured in possession.

Playing as a lone striker, Benteke endured a poor debut, isolated on his own, often having to drop short in search of the ball. Boss Rodgers needs to work out how to best utilise the £32.5m Belgian's height and aggression. The Reds put just six crosses into the box for him to feed off.

Man of the match - Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson
Not only was new Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson full of energy, gaining possession the most times, he also completed the most passes in the match

Manager reaction

Stoke manager Mark Hughes: "Liverpool have invested a lot of money this summer but I did not see £80m worth of difference between the teams. We are at a good level without going into the transfer market too much.

Stoke 0-1 Liverpool: Mark Hughes says Potters did not deserve loss

"I do not think any team deserved the win, a draw would have been the fair result. We will get stronger and be more creative. In terms of the performance, as this is the first day of the season, I am quietly confident we can go on from this point."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "To get the win after what happened here last season was even more important. We showed great character and determination as a team and our quality came through.

"I always felt last season's result at Stoke was a one-off. It was a poor day and it was important for us to come here and get a result. The players can put that behind them now and focus on moving forward."

What former Liverpool defenders said

Mark Lawrenson on BBC Radio 5: "It's been a very drab game. Extremely dull - it's been a bit of a dog's dinner at times - but the goal was absolutely top class. The turn on Steve Sidwell was brilliant - that gave Philippe Coutinho the space to run on goal."

Phil ThompsonMark Wright

The numbers game

  • Three of Philippe Coutinho's four goals in 2015 have come from outside the box.
  • Liverpool have only drawn a blank three times on the opening weekend of a Premier League campaign
  • Stoke have won just once on the opening weekend of a Premier League season in 2009-10

Line-ups

Stoke

  • 1Butland
  • 8Johnson
  • 20Cameron
  • 5Muniesa
  • 3PietersSubstituted forWollscheidat 45'minutes
  • 15Van Ginkel
  • 6Whelan
  • 19Walters
  • 16AdamBooked at 73minsSubstituted forSidwellat 78'minutes
  • 14AfellayBooked at 4minsSubstituted forOdemwingieat 78'minutes
  • 18Diouf

Substitutes

  • 7Ireland
  • 9Odemwingie
  • 11Joselu
  • 21Sidwell
  • 24Given
  • 25Crouch
  • 26Wollscheid

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 2Clyne
  • 37SkrtelBooked at 28mins
  • 6LovrenBooked at 50mins
  • 12GomezBooked at 63mins
  • 7MilnerBooked at 39mins
  • 14Henderson
  • 33IbeSubstituted forFirminoat 78'minutes
  • 10Coutinho
  • 20LallanaSubstituted forCanat 63'minutes
  • 9Benteke

Substitutes

  • 4K Touré
  • 11Firmino
  • 18Moreno
  • 23Can
  • 27Origi
  • 28Ings
  • 34Bogdan
Referee:
Anthony Taylor
Attendance:
27,654

Match Stats

Home TeamStokeAway TeamLiverpool
Possession
Home47%
Away53%
Shots
Home7
Away8
Shots on Target
Home1
Away3
Corners
Home3
Away5
Fouls
Home9
Away16

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Stoke City 0, Liverpool 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Stoke City 0, Liverpool 1.

  3. Post update

    Christian Benteke (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Marc Muniesa (Stoke City).

  5. Post update

    Foul by Christian Benteke (Liverpool).

  6. Post update

    Marc Muniesa (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).

  8. Post update

    Peter Odemwingie (Stoke City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  9. Goal!

    Goal! Stoke City 0, Liverpool 1. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Joseph Gomez.

  10. Post update

    Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Steve Sidwell (Stoke City).

  12. Post update

    Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Nathaniel Clyne.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).

  14. Post update

    Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).

  16. Post update

    Glenn Whelan (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  17. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Marco Van Ginkel (Stoke City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jonathan Walters.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Stoke City. Steve Sidwell replaces Charlie Adam.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Stoke City. Peter Odemwingie replaces Ibrahim Afellay.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Liverpool. Roberto Firmino replaces Jordon Ibe.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Leicester11004223
2Crystal Palace11003123
3West Ham11002023
4Aston Villa11001013
5Liverpool11001013
6Man Utd11001013
7Chelsea10102201
8Everton10102201
9Newcastle10102201
10Southampton10102201
11Swansea10102201
12Watford10102201
13Man City00000000
14West Brom00000000
15Bournemouth100101-10
16Stoke100101-10
17Tottenham100101-10
18Sunderland100124-20
19Norwich100113-20
20Arsenal100102-20
View full Premier League table

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