Liverpool striker Christian Benteke scored the only goal of the game on his home debut to earn his new side all three points against AFC Bournemouth on Monday night.
The Belgian international created more chances (4) than any other player on the pitch, and showcased his aerial dominance with 10 duels won over the course of the evening. He proved to be a useful out-ball when Liverpool were forced to go long in defence, and even hit the woodwork late on to wrap up the win.
Benteke had brief moments of clever interchanges with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, and was full of running for the side too. Often the 24-year-old peeled off a Bournemouth defender to hold the ball up down the channels, allowing Liverpool to regain their shape and build an attack. Manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the striker’s performance.
“He gives other options in the game, when teams try to press us high. I thought his hold-up play was excellent. You can see his feet – he’s got a good touch and awareness for a big guy and, of course, naturally when the ball comes into the box he’s a big threat. He deserved his goal and will be disappointed he didn’t get another, but it was a good night for him,” said the Liverpool boss.
Benteke himself admitted his excitement to have finally got off the mark for his new club, saying: “I think it’s a great day, for myself and the team. The more important thing tonight is the three points, but I should have scored (the effort that hit the woodwork).
Signed from Aston Villa for around £30M this summer, question marks were raised at the lofty asking price given the goal droughts and lacklustre performances have been prevalent during his time with the Midlands outfit, but Benteke temporarily silenced critics with a strong debut showing in a Liverpool shirt.
His goal earned the Reds their second win in an many Premier League games this season, and will have given confidence to Rodgers that he can be a useful option when injury-prone Daniel Sturridge is out of action. Benteke’s goal was a wrapped in controversy, with Philippe Coutinho influencing the play from an offside position, but the Belgian took his chance when it came to him, and will be hoping to replicate his debut season at Villa Park (19 Premier League goals). He’s certainly got off to an ideal start.