Liverpool 1-0 Leicester: Christian Benteke scores winner at Anfield
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 27/12/15 6:35pm
Christian Benteke came off the bench to score the winning goal as Liverpool beat leaders Leicester 1-0 at Anfield.
The big striker converted Roberto Firmino's low cross just past the hour mark and despite some anxious moments late on, Liverpool held on for a first win in four, condemning Leicester to just a second league defeat of the season.
Having opted for Divock Origi over Benteke in attack, Jurgen Klopp will have been pleased by the way his side started the game, Philippe Coutinho curling a shot just wide of the far post in the third minute.
Liverpool appeared to be trying to match up with Firmino often playing right up alongside Origi in a 4-4-2.
Leicester soon showed their teeth though as Riyad Mahrez skipped past Alberto Moreno and got to the byline, only to see his cross cut out by Mamadou Sakho at the near post.
The Reds gradually assumed control and Firmino threaded a pass through to Origi, whose shot was well blocked by Wes Morgan.
Origi got in again down the right soon after and his cut back was curled just over by Coutinho as Liverpool pressed for an opening goal.
The Foxes' threat on the break was evident, and despite Liverpool often doing well to contain it, there were still glimpses of the quality Leicester have shown in recent weeks.
Liverpool kept pushing forward and Kasper Schmeichel was forced into action twice in as many minutes at the midpoint of the half, first to push away Emre Can's low effort from the edge of the box and then to get down smother Origi's effort after the striker had outmuscled Morgan to get into the box.
Leicester then created a half-chance out of nothing as Mark Albrighton looped a cross into the box but the back-pedalling Jamie Vardy was unable to control the header and it floated over.
Klopp was then forced into a change as the impressive Origi went down with what seemed to be a hamstring problem and was replaced by Benteke.
That change - coincidentally, perhaps - was followed by Leicester's best period of the first half and Mahrez went close to breaking the deadlock in the final minute of the half.
After Kante had driven to the edge of the box, the ball was worked to Mahrez and after working half a yard of space, he hit a fierce shot that Simon Mignolet did well to push over the bar.
Leicester began the second half far brighter with Liverpool appearing to have lost the composure they showed before the break.
A scuffed pass from Sakho caused panic but with Dejan Lovren seeming to have resolved the situation, Mignolet played the ball back to Sakho, who have two men within two yards of him and he was forced to make another hurried clearance.
Liverpool eventually settled down again though and Benteke headed just over from Henderson's right-wing cross.
Five minutes later though and he was celebrating, Firmino cutting the ball back for the Belgian to score his first goal since the end of October.
Claudio Ranieri wasted little time in trying to alter the course of the game, taking off Shinji Okazki and top scorer Vardy, with Nathan Dyer and Leonardo Ulloa thrown on.
It seemed to work as Leicester started to push forward and Dyer almost got the equaliser, diverting a Christian Fuchs cross goalwards, only for Mignolet to make a smart save at his near post.
Fuchs caused more nervousness in the Liverpool defence with 10 minutes to go. His long throw was eventually gathered by Mignolet having come loose in the six yard box.
Coutinho almost doubled Liverpool's lead a minute later with a ferocious dipping shot that brushed the roof of the net before Firmino shot wide after a collision between Danny Simpson and Morgan.
Leicester continued to press and Andy King's goal-bound volley needed a deflection to send it wide.
Liverpool should twice have sealed the win in the closing stages, first as Henderson ran through with two men for support before playing the ball to no one having reached the penalty area.
That was nothing compared to Benteke's miss in the final minute, though, as Firmino played him in for an open goal with Schmeichel stranded up field having gone up for a long throw.
The Belgian contrived to shoot straight at the only defender back - Morgan - with the goal gaping before Lucas headed the rebound wide.
But it mattered not in the end as Liverpool held on for the three points.
Liverpool: Mignolet (6), Clyne (7), Lovren (8), Sakho (6), Moreno (6), Lallana (6), Henderson (8), Can (7), Coutinho (7), Firmino (7), Origi (7).
Subs used: Benteke (7), Lucas (6), Allen (6).
Leicester: Schmeichel (7), Simpson (6), Morgan (6), Huth (6), Fuchs (6), Mahrez (6), King (5), Kante (7), Albrighton (5), Okazaki (5), Vardy (5).
Subs used: Dyer (6), Ulloa (5), Kramaric (5).
Man of the match: Jordan Henderson