December 26, 2015

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) Christian Benteke asked Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp what he wanted, then delivered the decisive goal on Saturday that handed English Premier League leader Leicester its first defeat since September.

Benteke steered in a pass across goal by Roberto Firmino after an hour in the 1-0 victory, as Leicester was beaten for the first time since Sept. 26 against Arsenal.

Benteke was a first-half replacement for Belgium compatriot Divock Origi, who injured a hamstring.

''I spoke with Klopp a few days ago and he explained what he needed from me, and I tried to do it on the pitch,'' Benteke said. ''We have a big squad, I have to be patient until the manager needs me.''

Klopp could need him more shortly, after confirming Origi's hamstring problem, which will almost certainly sideline him with the other injured strikers, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings.

''I hope it's not too serious,'' Klopp said of Origi. ''Christian came in, it was not easy, but the second half was much better. He worked hard for the team, and made his goal. It was a deserved win.''

Leicester stayed on top of the table but could drop to second if Arsenal won at Southampton late Saturday.

Liverpool improved to eighth, five points behind fourth-place Tottenham.

Liverpool dominated the first half, with Phillipe Coutinho deployed on the left of a three-man attacking midfield, while Origi pressured defenders tirelessly until his injury. Both had shots saved well by Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester rallied after falling behind. N'Golo Kante almost scored by turning a cross from Christian Fuchs toward goal, only for returning Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to make a low save.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri felt his side was stifled by nerves at Anfield until the result was beyond them.

''We started to play too late,'' he said. ''Liverpool pushed from the beginning, and for this reason they deserved to win.''

Liverpool should have added a second in the final moments with an opportunity so clear that Benteke will be pondering how he walked off the pitch without a pair.

Leicester won a throw-in, and goalkeeper Schmeichel ran up into Liverpool's penalty area in an attempt to force an equalizer.

Liverpool cleared the throw by Fuchs, and the ball was swiftly played through to Benteke, who was surrounded by Leicester defenders but had no goalkeeper in front of him. He waited until he was inside the penalty area to shoot, and a defender managed to block.

Leicester will look to respond at home to Manchester City on Tuesday, while Liverpool is at Sunderland on Wednesday.

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