Jordon Ibe netted the game's only goal as Liverpool clinched a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Stoke City in their League Cup semi-final first-leg tie on Tuesday.
- Stoke City 0 Liverpool 1
- Liverpool duo Coutinho and Lovren injured
- Substitute Ibe opens scoring
- Reds take one-goal advantage to Anfield
Jurgen Klopp's men started the cup encounter on the front foot and looked threatening early on against a sluggish Stoke outfit. However, the reds lost Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren to injury, with Ibe and James Milner replacing the injured duo.
And Ibe had telling impact as he went on to break the deadlock with a driven effort on 37 minutes, Joe Allen providing the assist.
Liverpool continued to create chances after the break but couldn't find a killer touch in front of goal, while Stoke failed to create very many clear-cut chances as Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet produced an assured performance in the Liverpool goal..
The Reds came flying out of the starting blocks and made their intentions known early on as both Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana forced Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland into action inside the opening ten minutes.
However, Liverpool were dealt a blow when playmaker Coutinho went down clutching his thigh on 18 minutes, with youngster Ibe coming on to replace the injured Brazilian.
Ibe didn't take long to find his feet, though, as he fired over from range with his first effort of the game, before Butland did well to deny the attacker's second attempt from the centre of the penalty area.
At the opposite end of he pitch, meanwhile, former Liverpool full-back Glen Johnson cut inside from the right flank before unleashing a powerful left-footed shot that flew high and wide.
The visitors travelled to the Britannia Stadium with an injury-depleted squad and another name was added to the list in the 32nd minute as Lovren hobbled off with what appeared to be a thigh injury.
The fit-again Milner replaced Lovren and Liverpool managed to quickly recover as they went on to claim the lead just five minutes later.
Lallana raced clear of the offisde trap on the right flank before squaring the ball to Joe Allen, who slipped the ball into the feet of Ibe. The England U21 international took one touch to set himself before firing the ball across the face of goal and into the bottom-right corner.
Stoke, who had been somewhat muted up until this point, renewed their efforts after falling behind and created a handful of good chances to draw level.
Marko Arnautovic fired wide of the left-hand post on 38 minutes, while Xherdan Shaqiri blasted over from the edge of the box after the referee had given the advantage to the Potters for a foul on Ibrahim Afellay.
The visitors started second half at a high tempo and very nearly added to their tally inside the first minute as Emre Can fired wide of the mark from outside the box.
Stoke had a strong penalty appeal waved away by the referee a few minutes later after Alberto Moreno appeared to handle the ball as he attempted to block Ryan Shawcross' goal-bound shot.
Johnson, meanwhile, was proving to be one of Stoke's best attacking outlets and he threatened again in the 52nd minute, this time firing over with his right foot.
Liverpool quickly regained control but a lack of cutting edge in front of goal let them down on more than one occasion.
Roberto Firmino failed to find the mark with two efforts in the space of four minutes, while Milner and Ibe also failed to convert with respective efforts.
They were almost made to rue those missed chances as Stoke hit back at the Reds with a series of dangerous chances.
Shawcross headed over from Jonathan Walters' inviting cross, while substitute Joselu fired wide from six yards before seeing his goal-bound shot kept out by Mignolet.
Firmino had been wasteful for the Merseysiders and he squandered another good opportunity in the 78th minute, firing just over with a powerful effort from the edge of the area.
Liverpool shut up shop in the remaining minutes in a bid to protect the slender advantage, but Stoke had one last chance to level matters at the death. However, Walters couldn't hit the target after breaking free on the left-hand side of the box as he hooked his shot wide of the mark.