Ajax 0-1 Liverpool: Reds show steel in gritty Champions League win in Amsterdam

DON KOPLEONE with the match ratings on a night where the Reds squeaked through in Amsterdam, courtesy of a scrappy own-goal by Nicolás Tagliafico.

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This will go down as a vital win for Liverpool. This is the exact kind of fixture the Reds have lost in recent years, and that is why they have often needed to rely on final day performances in the Champions League group stages.

But now, Jürgen Klopp’s side can lead this group from the front, especially considering FC Midtjylland will be rank outsiders in their visit to Anfield next week.

Liverpool were very poor in the first half. The midfield three of Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Curtis Jones looked like a midfield that has rarely – if ever- played together before. Only a piece of Sadio Mané brilliance coupled with a Nicolás Tagliafico miscue gave the English Champions an undeserved lead at the break. But the second-half display was far more assured.

Joe Gomez, in particular, keeping calm at the back, while stand-in, Fabinho, won plenty of possession next to him. The Reds’ fabled front three was replaced as a whole on the hour mark, but their replacements all looked impressive on the counter. If anyone were to score again, Liverpool looked the most likely.


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As it is, a 1-0 away win is the ideal start to their European campaign. Your ratings, with Don Kopleone.

Starting XI

Adrián 6 – Tried to self-combust twice in the first fifteen minutes, but produced a good and crucial save with his feet when Promes was adjudged onside. A clean sheet will hopefully boost confidence.

Trent 6 – Quiet, but that is not necessarily a bad thing after being caught out against Everton. Worrying that Ajax carried far more threat down his flank, however.

Fabs 7.5 – Does look occasionally shaky positionally, covering in that central defensive role (see the first-half Promes chance, if you disagree), but seems to be doing very well when engaging. Won plenty of important headers and made a vital goal-line clearance towards the end of the first half.

JoGo 8 – First half was good, with the occasional apparent nerves understandable considering makeshift defensive set-up. Second half, Gomez really stepped into the Virgil-shaped void. Everything we could have wanted from the 23-year-old today. Man of the match.

Robbo 8 – In a very good run of form both offensively and defensively. Nothing came down the Ajax right, while the Scot was a constant menace breaking up the pitch.

CJ 5.5 – Looked lost, at times. Involvements felt coincidental, rather than pre-planned. A missed opportunity for the youngster.

Gini 6 – Didn’t look willing enough to get on the ball in the opening period, but was more productive after the break.

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Milly 6 – Likewise – a very poor first half, but much improved after the interval.

Mo 6 – Never quite found his way into the game in the way that he has so successfully recently.

Bobby 6.5 – Once again the Brazilian flip-flopped between the sublime and ridiculous, and that just covers his first touch.

Sadio 7.5 – Liverpool’s main source of first-half creativity and purpose. Sumptuous turn before finding the Tagliafico deflection for the opener.

Subs

Hendo 7.5 – Liverpool are just a better side when their captain is on the pitch. Calmed things down almost immediately when he replaced Jones at the break.

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Diogo 7.5 – Transition play was very effective. Nearly pressed Onana into a second, and a raking ball sent Wijnaldum through. Liverpool finally have high-quality depth in this area.

Taki 7 – This performance strengthens the argument that the Japanese international may deserve a start ahead of the out-of-sorts Firmino.

Power Cube 6.5 – Made the least significant contribution of the replacement front three, but showed some very nice touches all the same.

The English Williams N/A – Will be delighted with European minutes. Won a header or two amid the late Ajax onslaught.


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