Steven Gerrard returned to Liverpool’s starting lineup and scored the vital second goal in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday. The subject of a flurry of speculation surrounding his Liverpool future, thanks to a new contract that remains unsigned, and his current place in the side, following his exclusion from the starting lineup in the weekend win over Stoke City, the Liverpool captain put his team back in front early in the second half.
Liverpool had gone behind to the Premier League’s bottom club when Simon Mignolet’s woes continued with an own goal after Leonardo Ulloa’s shot struck the post and then the goalkeeper’s back before finding the net. But the visitors bounced back through Adam Lallana’s well-struck volley and, despite plenty of scares along the way, ended comfortable winners when Jordan Henderson made it 3-1 with seven minutes remaining after Leicester had been reduced to 10 men following Wes Morgan’s dismissal.
For Liverpool, after a woeful start to the season, it is now two wins in a row to lift them up to eighth place in the Premier League. This was also a match that marked the first time this season that Brendan Rodgers’ men had garnered points from a losing position. Still, it was hardly a serene victory, despite going up against a Leicester side that have now taken just two points from their last nine matches. With the narratives writing themselves, it will be tempting, too, to get carried away with Gerrard’s goal. Few, though, have doubted the 34-year-old’s enduring ability to strike the ball crisply when it counts. What was perhaps more significant was the improvement witnessed by having a natural player in the defensive-midfield role in which Gerrard has struggled this season. And Lucas Leiva was a frequent contributor, with a series of tackles, interceptions and clearances.
The Brazilian could do nothing to prevent what was a highly unconvincing start for Liverpool. Mignolet was again shaky in the extreme, this time passing the ball out straight to Esteban Cambiasso, who missed the target with his first-time shot to spare the Belgian’s blushes. Mignolet could have few complaints then when the ball went unwittingly off his prone body and into the net after he had just made an impressive save to deny Jamie Vardy.
It was a lead that lasted just six minutes. After Gerrard’s free-kick had been cleared, it was Lucas that lofted the ball back into the box for Rickie Lambert to use his strength and knock the ball down for the fast-arriving Lallana to volley home for his second goal for his new club.
The contest remained tied until Gerrard’s big moment 11 minutes into the second half. The veteran’s pass found Raheem Sterling on the left of the box, before the winger’s low cross was met by an unconvincing intervention by Morgan to merely take the ball into the path of Gerrard. Steaming into the box in trademark fashion, Gerrard’s finish into the corner from 15 yards was textbook.
Morgan’s forgettable evening continued in the 63rd minute, when he barely made contact with an attempted back pass to set Lambert through on goal, before hauling down the former Southampton man in a disastrously misguided attempt to atone for his error. Whether Lambert would have had the pace to get a clean shot on goal was doubtful, but few could argue with a red card.
Even when going against 10 men, Liverpool’s defense bent and so nearly snapped to allow Leicester an unlikely equalizer. Instead, Cambiasso’s strike struck his own teammate, Vardy, right in front of goal. That proved to be Leicester’s final chance for a point and Henderson made sure of the win for Liverpool. Gerrard was again involved further forward, before Kasper Schmeichel spilled the ball and Sterling astutely back-heeled it to leave his teammate with an open net.