Coutinho shines as five-star Liverpool rout Hull
Jurgen Klopp disproved his own words of warning as Liverpool crushed Hull City 5-1 at Anfield on Saturday to climb into the top four of the Premier League.
Klopp had written in his programme notes of the uniquely competitive nature of the Premier League, pointing out that there are no easy games in England’s top flight.
Liverpool’s manager also claimed that describing Hull as “just hard to beat” was doing them a disservice.
Hull won their first two league games and were unbeaten away from home in both the Premier League and the English Football League Cup, in which they are through to the last 16.
But both those theories were swiftly shot to pieces by a rampant Liverpool side, who scored three goals before half-time and could easily have doubled that tally.
Hull’s cause was not helped by the dismissal of Ahmed Elmohamady after half an hour as the defender blocked a shot from Philippe Coutinho on the line with his arm.
James Milner slotted home the resulting penalty to make it 2-0, but even before then Hull had never looked likely to end a record of never having won at Anfield.
Liverpool, playing in front of Anfield’s new Main Stand for only the second time, did as they pleased almost from the start as they made it an unhappy 54th birthday for Hull’s caretaker manager Mike Phelan.
Phelan is still to learn whether he will be appointed manager on a permanent basis.
But if the job should be made his, he will know he is in for a testing season, with Hull having now taken just one point from their last four league games.
Liverpool, on the contrary, are going from strength to strength. A third successive league win underlined their credentials as a side capable of sustaining a challenge at the top end of the table.
– Karius league debut –
Last season, before Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers as manager, they scored three goals in their opening six league games. This time round they have 16 at the same stage.
Coutinho should have given that tally an early boost, but saw his scuffed shot legitimately cleared off the line by Elmohamady.
It took just 17 minutes for the first goal to come, though, as Coutinho cleverly set up Adam Lallana to screw a mis-hit shot into the bottom corner.
Milner’s penalty re-affirmed Liverpool’s superiority and nine minutes before half-time it was 3-0.
Lallana turned smartly in the box to provide Sadio Mane with the chance to shoot low past David Marshall and claim his third goal of the season.
Mane also saw a deflected shot hit the bar, while Georginio Wijnaldum was twice denied by Marshall before Hull reached the sanctuary of half-time.
Arguably Klopp’s toughest call of the day had been to replace Simon Mignolet in goal with close-season signing Loris Karius following the German’s recovery from a broken hand.
Karius had virtually nothing to do on his league debut, but Liverpool are still to keep a clean sheet this season after Hull substitute David Meyler drove the ball home following a second-half corner.
If that was careless from Liverpool, the response was impressive as just 60 seconds later Coutinho strode forward to curl a trademark 25-yarder into the top corner for his third goal of the season.
Andrew Robertson then tripped substitute Daniel Sturridge to allow Milner to score his second penalty of a one-sided afternoon.