The stunning goal Philippe Coutinho scored for Liverpool against Stoke City surprised only those who are unfamiliar with his tricks.
Coutinho curled a blistering 25-yard shot past Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland in the 86th minute to dramatically win the teams' 2015-16 Premier League season opener.
In seperate interviews Monday, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, Simon Mignolet and James Milner hailed Coutinho for his goal and added they expected something like that based on what they see up close in practice and in games.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was the furthest player away from Coutinho, as he was lining up his shot, but he gave his attacking teammate some real-time advice, nonetheless.
“I knew what was going to happen,” goalkeeper Simon Mignolet told the Liverpool Echo, according to Liverpoolfc.com.
“The moment Philippe got the ball out of his feet and cut inside, I was shouting, ‘Shoot!’ He did the same at Bolton and Blackburn last season. We all knew what was going to happen.
“I see that quality from him every day in training. That great talent is something he was born with. He also works his socks off for the team. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of that from him this season.”
Fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson was much closer to Coutinho than Mignolet.
In an interview with Liverpoolfc.com, Henderson called on the other attacking Reds to emulate Coutinho and demonstrate the same ability they show in practice during the week in the weekend heat of battle.
“I was behind it,” Henderson said.
“As soon as he tried to shift it onto his right, I knew he would make the ‘keeper work. It was a fantastic finish, but he does that every day in training, so it was no surprise to us really.
“I always have the belief in our forward players that we can create one or two chances, even toward the end of the game. We’ve got that much quality. So as long as we stayed solid at the back, I knew we’d get a chance to win the game, and thankfully we did.”
Henderson and Mignolet have played with Coutinho since he arrived at Liverpool in January 2013, but James Milner, a summer signing from Manchester City, is new to the team.
Milner told Liverpoolfc.com he was happy to be on the giving, instead of receiving end, of Coutinho’s magic potion.
“I obviously saw him do it a few times last year — so to do it when he was on my team was nicer!” Milner said.
Liverpool players and fans have dubbed Coutinho “The Little Magician” because he regularly performs high-reel feats.
Milner, Mignolet and Henderson can attest to the fact Coutinho’s magic takes some getting used to.
This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.