Leicester – Liverpool crashed to a dismal 3-1 defeat at Leicester to leave their top four hopes in jeopardy after Alisson Becker’s latest blunder sparked a stunning collapse from the troubled Premier League champions yesterday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side endured a third successive defeat which would appear to end any chance of retaining the title.
The calamitous nature of Liverpool’s late meltdown raises serious questions about their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Mohamed Salah had given the Reds the lead in the second half at the King Power Stadium.
But James Maddison’s VAR-assisted equaliser was followed by a howler from away keeper Alisson, whose miscued clearance was converted by Jamie Vardy.
It was another miserable afternoon for Alisson following his two costly mistakes in last weekend’s 4-1 defeat against Manchester City.
“The first goal for me is offside. The difference is we think it’s an objective thing but it’s not. That’s something that has to change (with VAR),” Klopp said.
“The second goal is a misunderstanding obviously. It is a situation where we should shout and I didn’t hear anyone shout. It is not that cool.”
Harvey Barnes put the seal on Leicester’s superb comeback, leaving fourth-placed Liverpool languishing 10 points behind leaders City, who have two games in hand including one against Tottenham later on Saturday.
“The third goal I really don’t like. We are so open. I cannot accept,” Klopp said.
“The performance for 75 minutes or so was outstanding then we lost 3-1. That shows what a tricky situation we are in.”
While Klopp would privately concede that Liverpool won’t win the title, it is their top four place that he will be more worried about after the Reds were left with just two wins from their last 10 league games.
They could be as low as sixth place by Monday if Chelsea and West Ham win their games in hand.
The temperature was well below zero in the east midlands and Klopp’s 300th game in all competitions as Liverpool manager could not have been any more bitter.
Leicester climbed above Manchester United into second place after feasting on Liverpool’s problems.
“It was a very good win. We didn’t sink when we went a goal behind, we stayed calm and the players were brilliant in that period,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said.
“It was a real collective team performance. You can see the improvement in the team’s mindset. Our reaction was superb.”
With Fabinho sidelined by a muscle injury, on-loan Schalke defender Ozan Kabak endured a Liverpool debut to forget.
Vardy had a golden opportunity to open the scoring when he got between Kabak and Jordan Henderson to meet Barnes’ cross, yet his header was too close to Alisson.
Picked out by Maddison’s sublime backheel, Vardy got in behind Henderson before smashing his shot against the bar.
Liverpool took the lead in the 67th minute when Trent Alexander-Arnold whipped over a cross and Roberto Firmino dragged it back to Salah with a superb piece of nimble footwork.
Salah guided Firmino’s pass into the far corner with a clinical finish from 15 yards for his 23rd goal of the season in all competitions.
Just as Klopp’s men looked back on track, they were unhinged by a VAR controversy.
Initially, Leicester were frustrated when VAR ruled that Alexander-Arnold’s challenge on Harvey Barnes was just outside the penalty area rather than inside it.
But Maddison ensured they wouldn’t rue that decision when he bent his free-kick into the far corner.
An offside flag went up against Daniel Amartey, but a VAR review showed Firmino’s foot had played the Leicester midfielder onside so the goal was given.
Klopp reacted with a frustrated laugh at the way fate had conspired against Liverpool, but the German was simply furious three minutes later.
Needlessly rushing out to deal with Youri Tielemans’ long pass, which could have been cleared by Kabak, Alisson collided with the defender and miscued his kick straight to Vardy, who couldn’t believe his luck as he slotted into the empty net.
Liverpool were in disarray and their misery was complete in the 85th minute as Barnes sprinted on to Wilfred Ndidi’s pass to fire past Alisson. — AFP