Stoke 0-1 Liverpool: Jordon Ibe secures first-leg advantage for Reds
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 06/01/16 6:27am
Jordon Ibe's goal gave Liverpool a 1-0 victory at Stoke in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final on Tuesday evening.
The winger, who was an early substitute after Philippe Coutinho suffered a hamstring injury, fired home in the 37th minute as Liverpool dominated the first half.
Stoke improved after the break but struggled to create many clear chances against a resolute Liverpool defence, with Lucas playing at centre-back after Dejan Lovren also suffered a hamstring injury.
Jon Walters went closest when he dragged a shot wide from Peter Crouch's flick-on with nearly the last kick of the match.
The second leg takes place at Anfield on Tuesday, January 26, with the winner facing either Everton or Manchester City in the final.
While Stoke named the same starting line-up for the fourth game in a row, Liverpool made three changes from their defeat to West Ham, with Christian Benteke dropping to the bench and Adam Lallana, Kolo Toure and Joe Allen starting.
The visitors made a much brighter start as their energetic play in the final third caused Stoke plenty of problems.
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Roberto Firmino tested Jack Butland with a shot inside the first minute before Lallana forced the Stoke keeper into a one-handed save.
Even when Coutinho was forced off with a hamstring injury after 18 minutes, Liverpool continued to dominate.
Stoke's attacking trio of Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic struggled to get into the game at the other end, and when they did create a chance, Bojan fluffed his shot from a low corner.
Liverpool suffered another injury blow as Lovren went off holding his hamstring after 35 minutes, but their mood was lifted shortly afterwards.
Lallana's cross from the right was helped on by Allen as he mis-hit his shot, allowing Ibe to fire home at the far post.
Stoke went close to a response before half-time as Arnautovic headed wide and then Simon Mignolet saved from Glen Johnson.
But Mark Hughes still decided to make a change at the break, introducing Walters for Geoff Cameron, and the visitors posed more of a threat in the second half.
Still, clear chances were few and far between, with Butland's clearance rebounding off Firmino and into the keeper's hands and James Milner having a shot cleared off the line.
The final opportunity of the match went to Walters as he was played in by Crouch's header, but dragged his shot wide.