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Coutinho stunner gives Liverpool Hong Kong win

HONG KONG

A moment of Philippe Coutinho magic lifted Liverpool to a 2-1 victory over Leicester City in the final of the preseason Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday.

With Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp rejecting a big-money offer from Spanish giants Barcelona for Coutinho earlier this week, the mercurial Brazilian underlined his important to the Reds with a flash of individual brilliance in Hong Kong.

The 25-year-old picked the ball up on the left of the area on the stroke of halftime, jinked his way inside and let fly with a superb right-foot strike that proved to be the game-winner.

Coutinho had earlier played the role of provider for new signing Mohamed Salah, dinking the ball on to the Egyptian’s head to cancel out Islam Slimani’s 12th-minute nodded opener.

Salah had already demonstrated during the preseason that the club record $45 million Klopp paid Roma for his services looks money well spent.

His pace adding another dimension to Liverpool’s attack, the former Chelsea winger gave Leicester’s Christian Fuchs a torrid time until he was substituted on 65 minutes.

Klopp, whose side beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in midweek to reach the final, is still hoping to bring in Leipzig midfielder Nabi Keita, with Liverpool set to return with a final offer of around $97 million for the Guinea international.

Palace won the third-place playoff earlier on Saturday, seeing off West Brom 2-0 in a testy affair that saw a heated exchange between players as they entered the tunnel at halftime.

The match was settled by Luka Milivojevic’s sweetly struck free kick on 11 minutes and a deflected Bakary Sako shot that found the net with three minutes left in the first half.

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