Liverpool’s finishing costs them in Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester

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Liverpool’s finishing costs them in Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester

Eighty shots. Three goals. Liverpool’s finishing has badly let them down over the past week and a failure to capitalise on their first-half dominance at Leicester was a key factor in their 2-0 defeat in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who is still seeking his first piece of silverware at the club following this third-round exit, vented his frustration after the game at his side’s failure to take their “big chances”, as he called them.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Philippe Coutinho, Andrew Robertson and Dominic Solanke – three times – were all culpable in the opening 45.

“They could have been out of sight at half-time. We led a charmed life,” conceded Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare, after seeing the Foxes step up their own performance after the break, following Liverpool’s substitution of the instrumental Coutinho.

Questions have been asked of Liverpool’s defence this season – and Klopp was again angry at the way his side allowed Shinji Okazaki to profit from a half-cleared corner and Islam Slimani room to shoot from distance – but a variation of attacking line-ups have mis-fired since the international break.

“That thrashing of Arsenal seems a long time ago now,” said Alan Smith on co-commentary – and this Liverpool team are certainly now lacking the conviction they showed when hitting eight in back-to-back games against Hoffenheim and the Gunners in August.

There was the heavy defeat to Manchester City but Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino wasted good chances prior to Sergio Aguero’s opener and Sadio Mane’s sending off. Should Liverpool have turned their early impetuous into goals in that game, the outcome would have been very different.

Firmino then fired a penalty against the post in the 2-2 Champions League tie with Sevilla before Mane and Salah spurned second-half chances, while Daniel Sturridge and Solanke were guilty in the 1-1 draw with Burnley.

At Leicester, Liverpool – who made eight changes from that Burnley fixture – had 13 first-half shots and eight more after the interval, but found the target with just three of them.

Robertson was repeatedly afforded acres of space on the left but his delightful crosses went unconverted. Coutinho orchestrated three clear openings. Again, that good work went unrewarded.

“We played really good football in the first half. We should have decided it early. We had big chances,” lamented Klopp.

His removal of Coutinho at the break – cautious to ease the Brazilian back from injury – contributed to a drop-off from the Reds in the second half. They made 100 fewer passes after the break without their No10 shuttling the ball across and up the pitch.

But Leicester were buoyed by their first-half let-offs. Able to re-think and reconfigure at half-time with the scores still level, Shakespeare and his men were given a lifeline.

Liverpool will be back at the King Power Stadium on Saturday for a Premier League fixture. Most likely with a different frontline. But unless they can end their recently recurring wastefulness in front of goal, they may be leaving with a similar result.