MX23RW : Sunday, May 22 01:31:03| >> :120:24158:24158:
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Feb 11, 2017 at 5.30pm UK at Anfield
Attendance: 53,159

2-0

Mane (16', 18')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Live Commentary: Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Liverpool's 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, as the Reds picked up their first three-point haul of 2017.
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Tottenham Hotspur saw their 13-match run without defeat come to an end at Anfield as they lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the Premier League.

The Lilywhites found themselves two goals down inside just 18 minutes, as Sadio Mane scored twice in quick succession to punish some uncharacteristically sloppy defending.

Having had numerous chances to add a third in the remainder of the first half, neither the Reds nor Spurs could create any further openings as the match petered out in the second period.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded on Merseyside with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.


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Hello and to welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the Premier League meeting between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield. This latest top-six tussle in the English top flight brings together sides experiencing contrasting fortunes over the past five weeks or so, as Spurs have dropped points in just two of their last nine outings while the home side are seeking a first league win of 2017.

It really has been a tough start to the calendar year for Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, who has seen his side slip from second to fifth – and potentially lower than that come kickoff should Manchester United see off Watford – in the space of just five short weeks. Throw into the mix disappointment in both domestic cup competitions, all of a sudden a game of this magnitude almost becomes must win for the hosts.

Liverpool started the day occupying fifth spot in the division, 13 points adrift of league leaders Chelsea and winless in five Premier League outings in 2017. The title is now certainly out of reach, even if Klopp does still "dream" of winning each of his side's remaining 14 matches, but finishing in the top four would still be quite some achievement in the German's first full campaign at the helm. A piece of silverware to go with it would have been nice, of course, though as he keeps telling us this is a long-term project.

Five teams were separated by just five points between second and sixth at the start of this hectic day of Premier League action, including both Tottenham and Liverpool, in what is turning into being an almighty battle for three of the remaining Champions League qualification spots. We have already seen Arsenal see off Hull City today and Man United are currently in action against Watford, while Chelsea have a winnable fixture of their own at an admittedly strong Burnley side on home soil.

This match at Anfield certainly falls into that 'must-not-lose' category, then, with each and every point between now and mid-May vital to both sides' hopes of hitting their targets. Tottenham still harbour outside hopes of winning the title, too, potentially sitting just six points adrift of leaders Chelsea with victory on Merseyside this afternoon. Liverpool, on the other hand, will only reduce the deficit to 10 points with a win.

A lot has been made of the Reds' disastrous start to 2017 so far, but it really does need highlighting just how poor they have been over the past five weeks or so. Since beating another top-four rival in Man City on January 31 to climb into second place – right on the heels of Chelsea – they have won just one of the following 10 games in all competitions – their worst start to a calendar year since 1993. That run has seen them exit the FA Cup at the hands of lower-league opposition, having also been held by Plymouth Argyle, and drop out of the EFL Cup at the semi-final stage.

More importantly in the context of today's game, though, the Merseyside outfit have drifted out of the title race and could well find themselves down in sixth by the close of play today. The recent draw with Chelsea here did appear to stop the rot slightly and act as a potential turning point in their season, but that was followed up by another dismal display at Hull last weekend that laid their problems bare once again; Alfred N'Diaye and Oumar Niasse both registering to inflict a 2-0 defeat on the Reds.

That defeat at the KCOM Stadium – arguably the worst of the season so far – makes it just three points collected from the last 15 on offer in games against Sunderland, Swansea, Chelsea and Man United and Hull. Yet that pretty much says it all as far as this year has gone, as the Reds have performed well in games against the big boys – Chelsea and United – only to come unstuck in games that they have been expected to comfortably win. It is fair to say that Klopp's charges prefer the bigger matches, which has proved to be a problem when it comes to sustaining their title push.

Following on from that previous point, Liverpool have yet to lose against a side currently in the top half this season, winning six and drawing five. Their recent form does not exactly make things clear-cut when it comes to offering a prediction for how this one is going to pan out, though, with anything less than three points today making it six top-flight outings without a win to kick off a calendar year – their worst start since 1954 when going on to face relegation into the second tier. It is fair to say that will not happen again, but missing out on a Champions League spot really will feel just as bad for those ardent supporters.

To put things into some more context, Liverpool have dropped 12 points in their last five Premier League matches, compared to just nine in their previous 16 when they looked good value to sustain their push for the title. The good news is that the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Joel Matip have all now been integrated back into the fold, though that did not make too much of a difference on Humberside last weekend as they succumbed to another bottom-half side.

DID YOU KNOW? Jurgen Klopp has an identical record to predecessor Brendan Rodgers across his first 54 Premier League games; winning 26, drawing 12 and losing the other 16. Incredibly, the goals for and against tally is almost identical, too, with the Liverpool side under Rodgers – boasting Luis Suarez, of course – scoring four more goals by this point. A bonus stat for you – the Reds have won more penalties than any other side this term; James Milner converting all six of them.

After dropping nine points in 16 games to begin the season, Liverpool have since let slip 12 points in their last five and are now left to battle it out for a top-four finish. That would be far from a disastrous season should they hold on, but the sides around them are hitting form – bar the odd disappointing result – while the Reds are now winless in five league matches.

Jurgen Klopp applauds after the EFL Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Southampton on January 25, 2017© SilverHub


Things are looking a little brighter for Tottenham, meanwhile, as they started the day in second place and could claw within six points of leaders Chelsea by the end of play. They are essentially the only serious challengers to the Blues' pursuit of a second title in three years, but anything less than a win at Anfield – coupled with their London rivals seeing off Burnley in 24 hours' time – and the title may as well be handed over before the month is out.

Spurs have done well to push on from last season, as history suggests that outsiders tend to drift off after apparently overachieving – just ask Liverpool fans, who have seen second-placed finishes over the past decade followed up by, shall we say, a more mediocre campaign the next time around. The Lilywhites are good value to record their highest-ever Premier League finish, while at the same time finally finishing above rivals Arsenal, but all Pochettino is concerned about is focusing on each game as it comes – rightly so when things are so tight between second and sixth.

An interesting stat emerged in the build-up to this game, though, which shows that Tottenham still fall short in these big matches away from White Hart Lane. Since May 2015 they have won just once against a current top-eight side, with that coming at the Etihad Stadium last season. Pochettino has just one win in 14 away from home in the big games, meanwhile, so that has to change if Spurs are to again push on and potentially end their near-six-decade wait for top-flight silverware.

While Spurs have struggled, Liverpool quite simply love these fixtures as they have won three and drawn four of their seven games against Champions League challengers this season – including draws with Man United and Chelsea in the last few weeks, as well as that previous league victory over Man City at the end of December. Statistically speaking, though, the Lilywhites remain the division's toughest side to beat, losing just twice all campaign – albeit in away games to Chelsea and Man United.

Since the latter of those defeats in the early stages of December, Spurs have dropped just four points from the last 27 on offer – back-to-back draws with Manchester City and Sunderland, with the stalemate at the Stadium of Light the only real blemish for Pochettino all season. A 1-0 win over Middlesbrough last weekend, as uninspiring as it may have been, was exactly what was required and the Lilywhites are now back in second.

Spurs currently have 50 points from 24 games, which is heir equal highest at this stage of a Premier League season – equal with 2011-12 – and only trailing behind the famous side of 60-61 in the campaign that they went on to win the top-flight title. They are unbeaten in 11 overall, meanwhile, having also progressed in the FA Cup with the narrowest of wins over Wycombe Wanderers recently, requiring a couple of late goals to overcome the lower-league side.

That sets up a meeting with London rivals Fulham next weekend, but before then attention turns back to the Europa League. The Lilywhites face Gent in a double-header this month, but Pochettino is expected to rotate his side for that first knockout-stage tie with focus very much on the Premier League. All systems go for Spurs at the moment, then, in contrast to Liverpool who now only have the league to worry about for the next few months.

It is fair to say that Tottenham's success this term has been built on a solid defensive structure, among other impressive components, having conceded a league-low tally of seven goals from open play in all. Spurs have shipped just 17 overall, in fact – second only to leaders Chelsea, who have kept two fewer clean sheets. If they are to leave Anfield with a share of the spoil today, remaining tight at the back will likely be key.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Liverpool are unbeaten in their last nine league and cup meetings against Tottenham Hotspur, winning six of those matches. The last three league encounters have finished all square, though, with the Reds' 2-0 win in this fixture four months ago coming in the EFL Cup last 16. Spurs have won on just one of their previous 22 league visits here.

With kickoff now less than 20 minutes away at Anfield, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.

Jurgen Klopp: "In my dreams we can win 14 games. I know how it sounds but I cannot change my dreams and that is what I am working for. Most of the time I do what I have to do, not what I want to do. The reason why we did it wrong is not always clear but sometimes it is not always important, you only have to fix it immediately. To fix it is the most interesting part of my job actually."

Mauricio Pochettino: "I cannot speak for another coach but all the managers, and [Jurgen] Klopp with his experience, he is clever like other managers to provide good balance. If you win you are a genius, if you don't win you are criticised. You need to be natural, spontaneous and believe in the way you play, use your methods. It's an easy answer: only work in the way you believe you can achieve big things."


TEAM NEWS!

LIVERPOOL XI: Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lucas, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Mane, Coutinho, Firmino

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR XI: Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Dembele, Wanyama; Dele, Eriksen, Son; Kane


Turning attention to some confirmed team news from Anfield now, Reds boss Klopp has made one alteration from the defeat to Hull last weekend. Georginio Wijnaldum, the scorer of important goals in big games for Liverpool this season, comes in for Emre Can in midfield. Adam Lallana has overcome an injury problem sustained seven days ago to start, but Ragnar Klavan is only deemed fit enough for the bench.

With Dejan Lovren also still not fit enough to feature, Liverpool will therefore have to start this huge showdown with makeshift defender Lucas Leiva in the heart of their defence alongside Joel Matip. The other big decision that Klopp had to make today came in goal, where Belgium international Simon Mignolet has retained his place ahead of Loris Karius despite his latest howler in that 2-0 reverse on Humberside a week ago.

Liverpool will go with their tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation this evening, with Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane offering support to Roberto Firmino, who starts as the focal point in attack. Wijnaldum, the only player to come in from last time out, joins energetic England pairing Jordan Henderson and Lallana in the engine room, while at the back penalty specialist Milner and the now full fit Nathaniel Clyne occupy the full-back berths.

In terms of the visitors, Pochettino has stuck with a winning formula by naming no changes to his starting lineup. That is not necessarily good news, as it means flying full-back Danny Rose will play no part this evening, while Jan Vertonghen is still also some way away from a return to action. Eric Dier therefore retains his place alongside Toby Alderweireld in the heart of defence, while Ben Davies is trusted at left-back.

Spurs certainly have their favoured front-four quartet, though, as Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli all start behind Harry Kane, who has been involved in all three of his side's goals in their last two league outings at Anfield. That run includes two goals and one assist, while Kane is also the only Premier League player to reach the 20-goal mark in each of the last two calendar years.

BENCH WATCH!

LIVERPOOL SUBS: Karius, Moreno, Klavan, Can, Alexander-Arnold, Origi, Sturridge

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR SUBS: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Nkoudou, Janssen


Plenty of attacking options from the bench as far as Liverpool are concerned, with Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge both waiting in the wings, while Klavan is back among the subs after missing out last weekend through illness. The Lilywhites are a little thin following the loss of Vertonghen and Rose, to go with Lamela's ongoing absence, and they could be reliant on Vincent Janssen to make an impression from the bench.

Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino Manager of Tottenham Hotspur greet prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on October 17, 2015© Getty Images


KICKOFF! The time for talking is over - we are up and running at Anfield in this latest battle between two top-four hopefuls. Liverpool are sporting their traditional red strip this evening, while Tottenham Hotspur are in their white tops and blue shorts.

An early corner won by Tottenham, which ends in the welcoming hands of Mignolet. The hosts being urged on by a packed Anfield early on, but it is Spurs who were quickest of the the blocks with that early set piece being won.

Liverpool have wrestled back early control of the match, very nearly seeing Milner played through on goal down the left. You have to wonder whether Spurs will take a point from this match, but they will certainly not hold back at this stage.

Home fans out of their seats when Mane charges at a back-peddling Spurs defence. The Senegalese instead sprayed the ball out wide, though, killing momentum and seeing the attack end with Lallana losing possession in the box.

It has been near enough all Liverpool since that early Spurs corner, but for all the gaps they are finding in the final third they are not doing a great deal with the ball. Milner's weak shot from 25 yards is blocked aside.

The Lilywhites come out of their cage, with Eriksen getting under the ball and sending it over the bar with a rather audacious attempt. Better from Spurs, though, because they have yet to truly settle up to this point.

SHOT! Brightest moment of the match so far for either side, as the ball breaks to Coutinho inside the box. The Brazilian looked to pick out the bottom corner but Alderweireld did well to put his body on the line and block the shot.

GOAL! LIVERPOOL 1-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (SADIO MANE)

Tottenham have made a real poor start to this match, and they have now been made to play by Mane. Wijnaldum played a nice reverse pass for his teammate to latch on to, with the Senegalese doing the rest when one-on-one with Lloris to mark his first Anfield start of 2017 with a goal.

LIVERPOOL 2-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (SADIO MANE)

The main Mane, indeed! Dier is caught in possession and Mane is allowed to burst through on goal again, only to this time lay it off to Lallana to strike. Lloris kept out the shot, as well as Firmino's follow-up attempt, but Mane was on hand to blast home the second rebound.

They may not deserve to be two down, but it is fair to say that Spurs have yet to get out of first gear this evening. That second goal in particular was a shocker to concede, as Dier was caught in possession by Mane who certainly made him pay.

CLOSE! So nearly a third goal for the hosts, as Mane is slipped through for the third time today but this time picks out the side-netting. Three-quarters of Anfield thought it was a goal, but a deflection took it narrowly wide.

SAVE! Mane is a man on a mission! His belter of a shot is heading for the top corner, if not for a strong hand from Lloris to push it aside. Two goals, one big chance missed and now a shot kept out in superb style - not bad for 25 minutes' work!

SAVE! Tottenham finally wake themselves up and perhaps should have found a route back into this lively game. Davies picks out Son, who is denied down low by Mignolet when he perhaps could have squared to Kane. From the corner Alli sees his goalbound header helped wide by Lucas.

YELLOW CARD! The first caution of the evening is shown to Son Heung-min, whose challenge to stop Liverpool's counter did not work as intended. Davies is caught out again but Mane fails to make him pay this time.

Those two Liverpool goals were separated by just 138 seconds. It also means that Tottenham conceded as many goals in the opening 20 minutes of this match than in that timeframe in their previous 24 games this term

SAVE! This is pretty incredible stuff from Spurs - a side so defensively strong this season. This time it is Coutinho who is allowed to race through with just one man to beat, but his shot is well handled by Lloris.

Milner catches Son about 27 yards from goal, giving Eriksen a chance to highlight his quality from range. Not the worst attempt, but the ball was always rising over the bar. Better from Spurs over the past two minutes or so.

Half a chance for Son, but he fails to catch the ball properly and it rather comes off his studs and into the path of Mignolet. Davies having a few words with Son, as he is failing to over any sort of defensive support at the moment.

Half time fast approaching at Anfield, where Liverpool are still sitting on a comfortable two-goal lead. The chances are not as frequent are they were in the opening 30 minutes or so, but the Reds are still well on top.

CHANCE! Liverpool's sixth corner of the half ends with a decent chance at the end of it, as Lucas heads over the bar relatively unmarked from just six yards out. Only one goal since 2010 for him, coming against Plymouth a month ago.

Just about Tottenham's best spell of the match so far in terms of possession, but now that they are on the ball they have the task of breaking down the Reds' defence. Expect the hosts to sit back a little more in the second half.

Coutinho's tricky footwork creates some panic in the Tottenham box, but the visitors just about stand their ground. One minute of added time to play at the end of this entertaining - albeit one-sided - first half at Anfield.

HALF TIME: LIVERPOOL 2-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Referee Anthony Taylor brings an end to the opening 45 minutes, with Liverpool taking a deserved 2-0 lead into the break. Tottenham Hotspur have produced their worst first-half showing of the season so far - worse than we saw at the Etihad Stadium not so long ago - and now have it all to do if they are to leave Merseyside with a point.

Tottenham struggled to grab any sort of foothold on the match in the opening 45 minutes, and they were two down in the space of just 138 first-half seconds. A nice reverse pass from Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield allowed Sadio Mane to chase down the ball, and he kept his nerve and composure to mark his first Anfield start of 2017 with a big goal for his side.

The second was a similarly sloppy one for the visitors to concede, as Eric Dier was this time caught napping on the ball and made to pay by an up-for-it Mane. The Senegalese initially opted to lay it off to Adam Lallana, who was kept out by Hugo Lloris, while James Milner also failed to find a way past the Frenchman from the follow-up attempt. The loose ball fell nicely to Mane to blast home his second, though, as Spurs shipped two goals inside the opening 20 minutes - as many as they had in the same timeframe in their previous 24 games.

Liverpool were not content with just the two goals, sensing that the Lilywhites still had more mistakes in them, with deputy left-back Ben Davies in particular struggling as his flank was left exposed by attacking-minded midfielder Son Heung-min. Mane was denied a hat-trick by Lloris 23 minutes in from a bullet drive towards the corner, just moments after picking out the side-netting when again played through on goal.

Spurs were failing to lean their lessons, seeing Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Leiva both squander chances in a one-sided first half on Merseyside, with the visitors' only opening seeing Son blocked by the legs of an otherwise untested Simon Mignolet. Plenty of thinking for Mauricio Pochettino to do at the break, then, but will he turn to his bench at this early stage?

LIVERPOOL SUBS: Karius, Moreno, Klavan, Can, Alexander-Arnold, Origi, Sturridge

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR SUBS: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Nkoudou, Janssen

Tottenham Hotspur striker Vincent Janssen in action during his side's Premier League clash with Liverpool at White Hart Lane on August 27, 2016© SilverHub


RESTART! We are back under way at Anfield, where both sides remain unchanged from the first half. Pochettino, not helped by a lack of attacking back-up options, no doubt had a few words to say to his players at the interval.

The Reds have picked up from where they left off in that first half, winning an eighth corner of the game that Coutinho swings into a dangerous area. Spurs have already recovered from two down at Man City this year, remember, so not quite over yet.

YELLOW CARD! Jordan Henderson is shown a yellow card for bringing down Alli on the counter. Five minutes into this second half and no real sign that Spurs are going to grow into the contest at any point.

Tottenham look more energetic in this second half, which was always to be expected with Liverpool happier to sit back. Appears as though Lallana was booked for dissent following that Henderson foul on Alli a few moments ago, so two cautions in this half.

YELLOW CARD! Make that three Liverpool cautions in the space of five minutes, as Matip lunges in to join Lallana and Henderson in the referee's book. Kane hits the post from the free kick, but the offside flag was quickly up.

A fairly frantic opening 10 minutes to this second half, with a number of challenges flying in. Still awaiting a first serious attempt, which will suit Liverpool nicely as the minutes are fast ticking by at Anfield.

It is the home side who are still pretty much on top in this second half, despite being two goals to the good. A real disappointing showing from Spurs, who have tested Mignolet just once this evening - Son being kept out down low.

A quiet second half at Anfield, as the offside flag again frustrates the hosts. Pochettino still yet to make a change, with no proven quality attackers among his subs. Klopp, meanwhile, has Sturridge - and Origi - among his back-ups.

We are now 17 minutes into this second half and we are still awaiting Tottenham's response. The Lilywhites looking more stable at the back compared to the first half, but Pochettino needs his side to score a goal, which does not look like happening anytime soon.

Mignolet catches a corner and goes for a 50-yard throw to unleash a tiring Mane. A Spurs defender got across to cut it out, though, and still we await that first chance of the half. Liverpool back up to fourth place in the table as things stand.

A hugely frustrating night for those travelling Spurs fans so far, with their side offering so very little. Alli catches Clyne on the boot in the latest rash challenge, following on from Henderson's cynical foul on the Englishman a little earlier.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR SUB! Kane goes into the book for a late challenge on Clyne. Pochettino uses the break in play as a chance to make his first change of the evening, bringing on Harry Winks for Eriksen.

SAVE! First real chance of this second half, as Matip gets his head - or perhaps shoulder - to a cross. The attempt is on target but Lloris was down to collect. Still no sign of a Spurs comeback, with 20 minutes now left.

Such an incredibly sloppy half of football at Anfield, but Coutinho almost lights things up with a nice drive forward and a shot that ends narrowly wide of the post. Lloris looked to have it covered, though in the end he was not required.

Lallana in some real pain after being caught with a raking tackle down the shin by Wanyama. Firmino also down receiving some treatment, so Klopp just holding off making his first change for a minute or two while the damage is assessed.

SUBS! A change apiece with a little under 15 minutes to go, as Sissoko is on for Dembele in a like-for-like change, while Can replaces Coutinho in a reserved change by Klopp. Lallana and Firmino still not on the field so the Reds down to nine.

YELLOW CARD! A seventh yellow card of the match is shown to Eric Dier. Majority of those have come in this second half, which has been incredibly scrappy. The first half was lively, but what we have seen since has been very underwhelming.

Into the final 10 minutes at Anfield, where Liverpool hold a 2-0 lead over Tottenham Hotspur. Despite being two down since 18 minutes in, Tottenham have registered just one real attempt on target; Son being kept out by Mignolet in the first half.

SUBS! Lucas has seemingly tweaked his hamstring, so his evening is at an end. Klavan, who was not fully fit to take part from the off today, is on in place of the Brazilian. Janssen replaces Son in Spurs' final change.

YELLOW CARD! Nice bit of trickery by Firmino, who is halted in his tracks by Toby Alderweireld for the game's eighth caution. That is actually the Belgium international's first yellow of the season, two thirds of the way through.

Think every neutral watching this game will take half time right about now. Mane looks to lob Lloris after he was left in no man's land, but the attempt did not have the distance required. Liverpool can now celebrate just a second win in 11 matches.

Just the one shot on target in this second half - Matip's header easily dealt with by Lloris midway through - and just the four shots in all. Two minutes of normal time to come, plus around four minutes or so added on at the end of the match.

LIVERPOOL SUB! Alexander Trent-Arnold is on for star man Mane, whose two goals inside the opening 20 minutes are going to prove the difference. A deserved win for Liverpool - just a second in 11 outings in 2017.

The final minutes of the contest going the same way as the previous 45, as both teams struggle to put together any sort of attacking move. Liverpool could have had three or four in the first half, but as it turns out two will be more than enough.

FULL TIME: LIVERPOOL 2-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Liverpool comfortably see things through to secure a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur. Just a second win in 11 attempt this calendar year, and a first in the Premier League, helps the Reds back into fourth place in the table and now just one point behind their second-placed opponents. Sadio Mane proved to be the hero on the night, scoring two goals in quick succession early on to earn the points.

That concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events at Anfield. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, while reaction aplenty from both camps will follow elsewhere on the site in the coming hour or so. Thanks for joining!

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Liverpool full-back Nathaniel Clyne in action during his side's EFL Cup clash with Derby County at the iPro Stadium on September 20, 2016
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