Whenever you play against a new team, there’s always a little bit of fear of the unknown. We all knew the Monterrey would go for it and that this would be one of the biggest games in their history, but not many will have predicted just how proficient they were at both ends of the pitch.
Yes, it was a makeshift Liverpool side decimated by injuries, and the absence of Virgil van Dijk through illness was always going to leave a huge void at the back, but few could have predicted how many chances they — especially through the impressive Dorlan Pabón — would have.
At the other end, Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi were being marked out of the game, while three or four players immediately surrounded Mohamed Salah as soon as he got the ball. It was a real slog.
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But, eventually, one moment of quality late on from substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold cut through the resilient Mexican side and Roberto Firmino — who had also been recently introduced — tapped home to set up a Club World Cup final tie with Flamengo.
After so many games this season we’ve said “Liverpool weren’t at their best but they got the win nonetheless”. That was very much true again here as Jürgen Klopp’s side did just enough to earn the victory.
So, let’s see how the lads got on, right after a quick reminder of my ratings system:
Ali 8 — On a run of form which is very much validating the decision to make him the ‘best goalkeeper in the world’ at the Ballon d’Or. Successive man-of-the-match displays now from the Brazilian.
Milly 6 — Looked susceptible to pace when defending the counter.
JoGo 6.5 — Stepped into midfield well, as he did when in a great run of form last season. Was fortunate to stay on the pitch after pulling down Rogerio Funes Mori.
Hendo 6 — Filled on as best possible, but discomfort in the central defensive position was occasionally evident.
Robbo 5.5 — Struggled to deal with Monterrey’s most dangerous weapon- Pabon. Not at his best going forward either.
Ox 6 — Gave the ball away too easily during the first half, but grew into the game, driving well from midfield.
La La Land 5.5 — Does far too little defensively to make him a serious option in this new holding midfield role.
Naby 7.5 — Liverpool’s greatest goal-scoring threat throughout. Developing a really impressive combination with Mohamed Salah.
Mo 7.5 — A constant handful with his back to goal, did brilliantly for both Keita’s opener and Firmino’s dramatic winner.
Divvy 5.5 — Poor display from the Belgian. Never looked comfortable in the game.
Shaq 6 — Passing seemed to lack its usual incisive precision.
Sadio 7 — Came on and immediately offered his usual threat.
Trent 7.5 — Only needed twenty minutes to find an all-important assist.
Bobby 7.5 — I said in my last ratings that Bobby needed a confidence booster in this tournament. A last-minute winner could well prove to be exactly that.