Liverpool took a heavy blow to their top-four qualification prospects with a 3-1 defeat to Leicester City at The Kingpower Stadium.
Things were appearing to go swimmingly for the Reds when Mohamed Salah gave them a merited lead in the middle of the second half after a brilliant Roberto Firmino assist.
However, as has constantly been the case this season, injury and abysmal refereeing decisions hampered the defending champions. Leicester equalized from a James Maddison free-kick with ten minutes remaining, despite Daniel Amartey clearly being offside and obstructing Alisson’s view.
Then, in even more egregious circumstances, the Foxes took the lead after Jamie Vardy capitalized on a lack of communication between Alisson and Ozan Kabak by tapping into an empty net after the duo hurdled into each other. The fact that Jonny Evans’ blatant foul — which referee Anthony Taylor looked directly at — on Sadio Mane in the build-up went unpunished will stick in the craw of all the Reds’ faithful.
Exposed when chasing a leveling goal, the visitors were ripe to the counter-attack and they duly conceded the game killing goal when Harvey Barnes slid a finish past Alisson. It was a victory totally against the run of play and the Reds’ rotten run of luck has continued.
The Reds started the game in the ascendancy and had the lion’s share of possession and territory. Leicester were hemmed into their own half, without a route out, and the Reds’ kept turning the screw with an array of corners, none of which came to fruition.
Much of Liverpool’s early attacking play came down the right-hand flank and Trent Alexander Arnold was at the hub of their attacking thrust, with Salah a regular recipient of his passes. The duo combined for what could have been a penalty when the Egyptian was clipped in the box by Ricardo Pereira.
The decision would have been soft to award a spot-kick, but the Anfield team have been on the receiving end of worse calls this season so can rightly feel aggrieved by yet another decision not going in their favor.
For forty of the forty-five first-half minutes, the away team were comfortably better. The Foxes did show their teeth near the end, however, when Vardy — who may have been offside, regardless — struck the bar after a long ball over the top. As it was, the teams went into the break level.
Liverpool started the second period in similar fettle and were in control of the flow of the game. Their dominance finally paid goalscoring dividends with twenty minutes remaining. A beautifully dept flick by Firmino found Salah in the box and the Egyptian’s first time shot nestled into the left corner.
That was as good as it got for the Reds, though, even if their performance deserved more.
First, Leicester were awarded a penalty when Barnes softly initiated contact from Thiago outside the box. VAR overturned the decision but the Foxes scored from the subsequent free-kick, despite Amartey clearly being offside.
The hosts then took the lead when a hoofed long ball towards Vardy saw Alisson clatter into Kabak and take him out. In the rubble of the Reds’ defence, Vardy tapped into an unguarded net. Still, there’s no way the goal should have counted given Evans’, clear, two-handed push on Mane in the build.
Then, to put the final nail in the coffin, Barnes killed the game when Kabak didn’t hold a proper offside line and the winger ran in to slide his finish home.
Another day, another terrible run of luck.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Kabak, Henderson, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements: Thiago for Milner, Oxlade Chamberlain for Jones, Shaqiri for Milner.
Subs not used: Adrian, Tsimikas, Phillips, R.Williams, N.Williams, Clarkson.