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December 27 2016 , Written by ODIGWE ANSELEM



Roberto Firmino put his off-pitch troubles to one side and Adam Lallana continued his fine form as Liverpool routed Stoke City 4-1 to reclaim second place in the Premier League.

Brazil international Firmino was charged with drink driving after being pulled over by police in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

However, the influential forward showed no signs of distraction as he ended a six-game Premier League drought to put the Reds in front after Lallana had cancelled out Jonathan Walters' opener for his fourth goal in four league outings.

Liverpool continued to pour forward after the break and Giannelli Imbula scored in his own net before Daniel Sturridge's first league goal of the campaign completed a comfortable outing at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp's men consequently close the gap to leaders Chelsea back to six points and can approach their crunch clash with third-place Manchester City on Saturday with renewed confidence.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has never beaten Liverpool as a manager in the Premier League and his side stay 12th after their winless league run was extended to four matches.

The Potters withstood an early Liverpool barrage to take a 13th-minute lead. Erik Pieters dispossessed Sadio Mane on the left and his curling cross was met by Walters whose powerful header beat Mignolet, although the goalkeeper should have done better with his attempted save.

Mignolet made amends with a fine stop from former Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen's drive, with Pieters' follow up cleared off the line.

Another ex-Liverpool star Peter Crouch then preserved Stoke's lead by hacking Firmino's effort off the line, but the Reds' pressure told in the 35th minute.

Lallana's first touch had seemingly let him down after good interplay with Mane, but Glen Johnson failed to clear and Lallana reacted quickest to drill past Lee Grant from a tight angle.

The turnaround was complete in the closing stages of the half when James Milner slipped in Firmino, who took a touch before beating Grant with a low effort that hit both posts before nestling in the back of the goal.

Liverpool continued in the ascendancy after the break and Milner was unfortunate not to add his name to the score sheet when he curled wide after playing a clever one-two with Mane.

The lead was extended shortly before the hour, though. Divock Origi sent in a low cross from the left and Imbula, who was trying to deny Mane a simple tap in, slid in and touched the ball over the line.

Sturridge, on as a substitute for Origi, then intercepted Ryan Shawcross' poor backpass before rounding Grant and slotting into the empty net for Liverpool's fourth.

There was a personal highlight for Ibrahim Afellay as the Stoke star made his comeback after an eight-month spell on the sidelines due to a knee injury, but the Reds comfortably saw out the match to warm up for the City clash in style.

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