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Liverpool claim top honours in EPL Asia Trophy

Photo: Dennis Lo

The English Premier League Asia Trophy came to a close with Liverpool crowned the winners after they beat Leicester City by 2-1. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace beat West Bromwich Albion by 2-0 in the third place playoff.

Crystal Palace squared off against West Bromwich Albion in the first match of the day to decide who would finish third and fourth. The Baggies started strongly, with Salomon Rondon close to scoring the opener in the 3rd minute following a short corner, but his header went harmlessly over the bar.

Meanwhile, Wilfried Zaha was quite active in the Eagles’ attack and threatened West Brom’s defence with some dangerous runs. His efforts proved to be fruitful after winning a free kick in the 11th minute, and Luka Milivojević managed to stroke the ball home to put Palace 1-0 up.

In order to counter the threat of Zaha, the Baggies adopted an aggressive policy, resulting in a number of fouls on the Ivory Coast international. However, local referee Ng Chiu Kok only presented a single yellow card to Nyom for his foul on Zaha, with no further punishments being dished out to other offenders.

West Brom failed to produce any threatening opportunities in the later part of first half, and the Eagles took full advantage of this to double their lead. Bakary Sako added his name to the score sheet in fortunate fashion, after his weak shot took a deflection off Ahmed Hegazi and Craig Dawson to find its way into the net to put Frank De Boer’s side 2-0 to the good at the end of the first forty five minutes.

However, there was still time for some on-field antics before both teams entered their respective dressing rooms, with Milivojević having a heated exchange with Claudio Yacob in relation to an earlier tackle from the latter before the referee and other players calmed the situation.

Both teams made a host of changes at half time, with West Brom having some decent chances to reduce the deficit – Ahmed Hegazi blasted the ball over the bar in a good opportunity following a free kick. Not long after, Matt Phillips attempted a shot from the edge of the box that was heading for the top right-hand corner, but Julian Speroni produced an excellent save. Indeed, the Palace goalkeeper was called upon on a few more occasions in the second half, helping to maintain his team’s two goal lead and claim the victory.

Despite the win, Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer was clearly not happy with local referee Ng Chiu-kok on the treatment of Wilfried Zaha, believing the referee should have protected his players by presenting yellow cards more often which Ng Chiu-kok seemed quite to do so.

West Bromwich Albion:

Ben Foster [GK], Allan Nyom, Jonny Evans [C] (Claudio Yacob 22), Jake Livermore (Sam Field 68), Salomón Rondón (Hal Robson-Kanu 62), Matt Phillips (James McClean 62), Chris Brunt, Jay Rodriguez (Jonathan Leko 62), Nacer Chadli (Nacer Chadli 75), Craig Dawson, Ahmed Hegazi

Crystal Palace:

Wayne Hennessey [GK] (Julian Speroni 46), Luka Milivojević (Michael Philips 61), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Joel Ward 46), Andros Townsend (Aaron Wan Bissaka 76), Wilfried Zaha (Nya Kirby 69), Christian Benteke (Freddie Ladapo 76), Bakary Sako (Yohan Cabaye 61), Damien Delaney (James Tomkins 61), Jeffrey Schlupp (Patrick Van Aanholt 46), Martin Kelly, Jason Puncheon [C] (Jonathan Williams 76)

 

The second match of the day was the final for the Asia Trophy between Liverpool and Leicester City. Liverpool fielded a strong squad with many of their expected starting line-up taking to he field, but despite the Reds dominating the early stages of the game, it was the Foxes who scored first after Islam Slimani headed in a cross from Christian Fuchs from the far post in the 12th minute.

Liverpool remained calm and continued with their usual high-pressing tactics, but Jurgen Klopp cut a more agitated figure on the touchline, receiving a warning for his verbal tirade aimed at the referee. Twenty minutes in, however, parity was restored after new signing Mohamed Salah headed in an overhead pass by Philippe Coutinho to level the scores at 1-1.

The Merseyside club continued to press forward but it was Leicester City who produced the next best chance – Marc Albrighton attempting a shot from the edge of the box which went just wide of the left side of the post.

It was Liverpool though who took the lead just before the end of the first half. Philippe Coutinho unleashed a magnificent curling shot from the edge of the box that sailed into the net, with Mohamed Salah bagging himself an assist after a fantastic run from the right side of the box.

Leicester City did manage to fashion a number of chances at the start of the second half, and Jamie Vardy’s pace proved to be a problem for Liverpool’s defence with him having a few chances but ultimately failing to score an equaliser.

In truth, the second half was less exciting after a number of chances at the start, and although both teams did put the ball into promising areas they failed truly test either of the goalkeepers. Leicester City tried to utilise the pace of Jamie Vardy and later substitute Ahmed Musa, but no goals were added to the tally. The match ended in a 2-1 win for Liverpool, who were crowned the champions of the EPL Asia Trophy 2017.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp thanked the fans of Hong Kong in the post-match press conference, saying Hong Kong Stadium was 50% of Anfield thanks to the passion they showed.

Liverpool

Loris Karius [GK], Georginio Wijnaldum (Dominic Solanke 65), Dejan Lovren (Jon Flanagan 85), James Milner [C] (Alberto Moreno 41), Roberto Firmino (Marko Grujic 46), Philippe Coutinho (Ben Woodburn 55), Mohamed Salah (Ryan Kent 65), Adam Lallana (Jordan Henderson 46), Divock Origi (Daniel Sturridge 46), Joel Matip (Ragnar Klavan 46), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Joe Gomez 55)

Leicester City:

Kasper Schmeichel [GK], Danny Drinkwater (Vicente Iborra 56), Wes Morgan [C] (Yohan Benalouane 77), Jamie Vardy (Leonardo Ulloa 66), Marc Albrighton (Tom Lawrence 46), Harry Maguire, Daniel Amartey (Danny Simpson 46), Islam Slimani (Andy King 46), Matty James (Wilfred Mididi 56), Riyad Mahrez (Ahmed Musa 66), Christian Fuchs

Photos below by Ryan Kam

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