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Sturridge impresses as much-changed Liverpool overcome Bournemouth

Jurgen Klopp rotated the Europa League semi-finalists heavily following their midweek exertions.

Image: Andrew Matthews

DANIEL STURRIDGE WAS in inspirational form as Liverpool sealed a 2-1 win at AFC Bournemouth to keep up their bid for a place in the Europa League next season.

Jurgen Klopp rotated the Europa League semi-finalists heavily following their midweek exertions against Borussia Dortmund, with both Roberto Firmino and Sturridge charged with leading the line for a side that boasted 10 changes from their midweek victory.

The latter looked particularly eager to prove a point and it was his brilliant back-heel despite the attention of Bournemouth’s defenders that Artur Boruc parried right into the path of Firmino, who netted with ease.

Sturridge was not done yet, though, and he rose highest to meet Jordon Ibe’s free-kick to net a decisive second for Liverpool four minutes later in injury time before the break.

The 28-year-old continued his dominant showing in the second half, striking the post, but it was the hosts who pulled one back through Joshua King, who let fly with a half-volley that left young Reds goalkeeper Danny Ward with no chance.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League - Vitality Stadium Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores his side's first goal of the game. Source: Andrew Matthews

Bournemouth set about pressing the reshuffled Liverpool defence from the off, though Tommy Elphick’s header straight into the hands of debutant Ward represented the best opening of the first 20 minutes.

Boruc saved comfortably from Kevin Stewart’s placed effort but he showed far more agility to claw the ball away from the near post after Steve Cook’s attempted clearance rebounded off the legs of Sturridge.

But Boruc could do nothing to prevent Klopp’s side from snatching the lead just before the break. Sturridge’s clever back-heeled attempt was superbly saved by the Poland goalkeeper, only for Firmino to arrive and to tap home on the line.

Sturridge himself doubled the lead right on half-time, rising unopposed to head Ibe’s set-piece from the left beyond Boruc and into the far corner.

A fumble from Boruc gave Firmino the chance for Liverpool’s third within minutes of the restart, but the Brazilian could only hook his half-volley wide, and Sturridge’s brilliant chip clipped the bottom of the post just five minutes later as the visitors assumed complete control.

Bournemouth had scarcely threatened Ward’s goal in the opening hour, but substitute Pugh at last brought a save out of the youngster, cutting inside Lucas from the right and shooting low into the keeper’s midriff.

Pugh was denied again by a combination of Mamadou Sakho’s challenge and Ward’s right hand as he again raced clear into the area, with Eddie Howe’s side at last beginning to offer some sustained pressure on the Liverpool goal.

Sturridge rattled the crossbar after Callum Wilson saw a header superbly saved by Ward, but Bournemouth did snatch a lifeline in injury time as King controlled expertly on the chest before rifling a half-volley beneath Ward from the edge of the area.

Cook headed narrowly over in the final seconds but Bournemouth could not find a dramatic equaliser, meaning they remain 13th.

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