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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 11 April 2021


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JUST STOKE CITY, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City remain in this season’s Capital One Cup.

This week sees the last four meet in the semi-final first legs and it’s the Potters versus the Reds first up this evening.

Kick off is 8pm.

The teams are in:

STOKE CITY: Butland, Johnson, Shawcross, Wollschied, Pieters, Whelan, Cameron, Shaquri, Affelay, Arnautovic, Bojan.


LIVERPOOL:  Mignolet, Clyne, Toure, Lovren, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Allen, Coutinho, Lallana, Firmino.

Geoff Cameron starts for Stoke despite being red-carded last weekend as his sending off was overturned. The US international partners Glenn Whelan in midfield, while Ibrahim Afellay, Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan Krkic and Marko Arnautovic all play with Jon Walters on the bench alongside Irish team-mate Marc Wilson.

Despite the fact that Daniel Sturridge is injured, there’s no place for Christian Benteke in the Liverpool team as Jurgen Klopp goes with Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana in attack.

Kolo Toure is named at centre-half with Mamadou Sakho missing through injury.

Southampton v Liverpool - Capital One Cup - Quarter Final - St Mary's Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Speaking to Sky Sports, Klopp says: “I didn’t put Benteke on the bench, I brought Lallana back into the team as I have to work out what will work best for us.”

The German finishes the interview with one of those trademark manic laughs of his.

“The onus is on us because we’re at home and we will have a fantastic crowd behind us so we’ll go out on the front foot and see where it takes us,” says Stoke boss Mark Hughes.


The teams have emerged out onto the pitch and we’re seconds away from kick-off.

Stoke City v Liverpool - Capital One Cup - Semi Final - First Leg - Britannia Stadium Messrs Hughes and Klopp shake hands. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Flag 2Mins

WE’RE UNDERWAY – Liverpool begin strongly with Firmino picking up a loose pass before advancing and firing at Jack Butland.

Stoke Liverpool kick off


Early pressure from the visitors results in a couple of corners. This is a promising start from the Reds.


A decent curling strike from Lallana has Butland stretching to bat it away. It has been all Liverpool so far.


Stoke are attempting to play out from the back here but Liverpool’s high pressing line is working a treat at the moment as Coutinho robs possession then starts an attack. Receiving the ball back, the Brazilian looks to slip Lallana in but it’s slightly over-cooked.


The little Sky Sports graphic in the corner of my screen shows that 55% of the action has been in Liverpool’s final third in the opening 14 minutes.

As I write, Coutinho goes running at the Stoke backline but a perfectly-timed tackle from Ryan Shawcross cuts out the danger… for now.


Oh dear, Coutinho goes down holding his hamstring and that will be the last we see of him tonight.

Coutinho injury


SUBSTITUTION – Coutinho limps off to make way for Jordan Ibe.


Ibe has his first shot at goal but it’s high and wide.


Cheeky corner from Stoke. Bojan comes in off the back post to meet a low ball on the 12 yard spot. The contact is poor, however, and his strike doesn’t trouble Simon Mignolet.


Another chance falls to Ibe. The Reds winger meets a cross and fires at goal but Butland smothers comfortably.


More injury worries for Liverpool? Lovren looks like he’s done for the evening too now.


SUBSTITUTION – Liverpool’s second enforced change of the night as Lovren leaves with James Milner coming on.

Lucas will drop into centre-half.

Lovren injury

Flag 37Mins

GOAL! Stoke 0-1 Liverpool (Jordan Ibe) 

The away team lead. Lallana cuts the ball back, Allen feeds Jordan Ibe and the substitute fires beyond Butland.


Just three minutes of added time to play in the first half.


Allen has two goes at taking Afellay down, but the advantage is played and Shaqiri blasts a shot over.

Flag 45Mins

Half-time: Stoke 0-1 Liverpool 

Mignolet makes a great save from Glen Johnson after a late Stoke corner and that’s the last of the action as we head into the break.

Stoke City v Liverpool - Capital One Cup - Semi Final - First Leg - Britannia Stadium Moreno chases down Shaqiri. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Flag 49Mins

And we’re back. One change to report at half-time and it’s Ireland’s favourite son Jon Walters who makes his introduction with Geoff Cameron going off.




Liverpool once again on the attack, just like they were for much of the first half. Ibe steps over a pass and lets it run through to Firmino, who forces a corner off ex-Reds defender Johnson.


Chance for Stoke! A free-kick is fizzed into a crowded box, Whelan can’t get a shot away and Shawcross is blocked as he pulls the trigger.

The Potters have reverted back to their traditional direct style of play, and it appears to be working.


Arnautovic attempts a cracking pass to seek out the run of Shaqiri. It’s great vision from the Austrian, but his ball is marginally too long and runs through to Mignolet.


Penalty shout for Liverpool as Whelan brings down Allen in the box but it’s waved away.


SUBSTITUTION – Stoke take off Bojan, who has been quiet tonight, to introduce Joselu.


Here are the stats courtesy of the BBC as we reach the 70-minute mark.


Booking for Mignolet. The Belgian has been done for a spot of time-wasting. He then kicks the ball straight into touch.


That could have been costly. Butland’s attempted clearance comes off Firmino and nearly loops over the goalkeeper’s head, but he just about reaches to save.


Stoke still pushing forward in search of a goal. Substitute Joselu has a pop from the edge of the box, Clyne makes the block but the ball has to be tipped over by Mignolet.


SUBSTITUTION – Liverpool preparing to make their final change of the night…

It’s Christian Benteke for Joe Allen.


Shaqiri gets away down the right flank and looks to cut the ball back to two team-mates loitering in the six-yard box.

Kolo Toure gets a vital block in, however.


SUBSTITUTION — Hughes’ last throw of the dice as Shaqiri is off for former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch.


The ball is sent in towards Crouch and Mignolet comes with a strong fist to punch clear.

Stoke have bodies forward here, but the offside flag goes up.


Not another hamstring. Kolo Toure is feeling the pain but Liverpool are all out of substitutes so he’ll soldier on…

Flag 90Mins

Full-time: Stoke 0-1 Liverpool 

Late chance for Walters as Crouch gets the knock-on, but he drags it wide.

So, not a huge amount in it but Liverpool take a 1-0 advantage back to Anfield for the second leg on 26 January.

Tomorrow night, it’s Everton v Manchester City at Goodison Park.

That’s all from me. We’ll have a report and reaction up shortly.

About the author:

Ben Blake