Press Association match report

Liverpool suffered the sort of shock start they just did not need in their first Anfield league game of the season. After last season's title fadeout and the £12 million Roy Evans has spent re-inforcing the side, to be behind so early took the wind out of their sails.

A goal after just 72 seconds stunned the stadium into silence.

The ground is in the middle of a major re-fit, with the Anfield Road end a building site as a new stand is being constructed, with just two towering cranes watching over the action. And it was in this empty end that Leicester scored a shattering early goal. There was no acclaim from visiting fans that normally populate that end, just silence as even the Leicester players looked stunned by it all.

The centre of Liverpool's defence had gone missing as burly striker Emile Heskey swung over a deep cross from the left. The ball was allowed to drop virtually unchallenged and defender Matt Elliott hooked it past a helpless David James from 10 yards.

It was supposed to be a new dawn at Anfield. Paul Ince captained the side for the first time on home soil, while the boy for the future, 17 year-old Michael Owen, made his home debut to great acclaim from the Kop.

Despite the earlier belief that another new boy, Norwegian Oyvind Leonhardsen, would also make his debut it was clear that his hamstring strain hadn't recovered enough even for him to be on the bench, where Jason McAteer didn't figure.

The only change from the side that drew at Wimbledon was that Steve Harkness replaced the unlucky Neil Ruddock, who goes into hospital later this week for an exploratory operation to his damaged right knee.

Leicester boss Martin O'Neill fielded the same side that won on the opening day against Aston Villa, with their summer signings, Graham Fenton and Robbie Savage on the bench.

The early goal set the tone for the first half with Leicester, who surprised many last season by surviving in the top flight and then going on the reach Europe via the Coca Cola Cup, defending in depth. They gave young Owen a torrid baptism of fire, with Elliott at the centre of it all. Next Elliott almost pulled the shirt off Owen's back and escaped a booking, and a few minutes later he combined with Neil Lennon to rough up Owen as he battled his way down the right.

Leicester's defence stood firm as Liverpool drove forward, unable to penetrate and forced to hold possession and move back and sideways too often. Lennon, the tenacious little midfielder, stuck to Ince like glue, and was booked for chopping down the England man from behind after 20 minutes. Spencer Prior and Elliott kept Riedle quiet and protected Kasey Keller to the point that he didn't have a shot to save for virtually the entire first half.

Leicester sat back and attacked on the break. Whenever they did, Heskey and Ian Marshall looked strong and resourceful against Mark Wright and Phil Babb. Liverpool conceded possession far too much, but Leicester were pushed so far back they resorted to pumping the ball into an empty half at times.

Copyright - Press Association

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