A half-time coffee to keep yourself awake is not typically associated with European nights under the Anfield lights, but, personally, I found it necessary here as Liverpool limped to a 2-0 victory against FC Midtjylland.
The Reds’ first half performance in this Champions League fixture was dreadful, just as it was last week in Amsterdam.
The game’s major talking point arrived in that period though, with Brazilian international Fabinho limping off with what looked to be a hamstring problem. Jürgen Klopp’s side would now appear to have only one senior central defender fit, with a crunch match at the Etihad Stadium looming ominously.
The home side did improve slightly in the second half, though. Their two best first-half performers, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Xherdan Shaqiri, combined to tee up Diogo Jota for an opening goal on 55 minutes. And while the Danish Champions created a couple of chances to equalise, it was substitute Mohamed Salah who had the final say, lashing home a second from the penalty spot.
A poor performance, but a good three points for Liverpool, which take them clear at the top of the group. In the grand scheme of things though, this could be looked back upon as a very disappointing evening, as the Reds lost yet another starter to injury.
Your ratings, with Don Kopleone:
Ali 7 – Displayed assurance throughout, until a bizarre late kick-out hardly left the ground. Closed down well to narrow angle when the impressive Anders Dreyer went through late.
Trent 8.5 – Liverpool’s only real source or creativity in the first half, and the best player on the night by some distance. Assist for the Jota goal, superb pass led to the Salah pen. Man of the match.
Fab 6.5 – Pulled a hamstring and I hurled expletives at my computer screen.
JoGo 6.5 – Never found his passing range, but the Englishman’s defensive work was good enough, if less polished than in his last two displays. Seemed to command Rhys Williams well when necessary.
Robbo 5.5 – Weirdly troubled by Anders Dreyer early on, allowing a dart inside which could have proven costly.
Hendo 6 – Failed to assert himself on a game for the first time in eleven months, by my count. Yet another injury issue forced him off at half-time. At this rate Barry Lewtas’ u23s team will be playing a whole lot more first-team football than they might have imagined.Embed from Getty Images
Milly 5.5 – You just worry that Milly will give away a costly free-kick every time the ball comes near him at the moment. Did win some key tackles, though.
Little Shaq 7.5 – One of the brighter sparks from a very dull performance. Brilliant reverse pass led to the Jota goal.
Diogo 6.5 – Involved little, BUT tucked home the all important opener. That’s three goals in four Anfield appearances for the Reds’ most recent recruit.
Taki 5.5 – Picked up possession often enough, but a poor touch regularly let him down.
Divvy 5.5 – Looked lost, which is sadly becoming all too common a refrain for the Belgian.
Baby Virgil 7 – Assured enough, stepping into what could be a big first team role. One very confident interception pleased me especially. Now hope to see the academy product have the confidence to step into midfield or break the lines with his passing – it isn’t easy but it is a requisite for a Liverpool centre-back!Embed from Getty Images
Gini 6.5 – Argument could be made that the Dutchman’s introduction helped to settle Liverpool’s shape, although multiple factors were at play.
Mo 7 – Not a vintage cameo, but will be delighted to have won, and then finished the penalty.
Sadio 6 – The Senegalese’s touch was not initially as good as it can or should be.
Bobby 5 – Missed a late sitter, which he immediately followed by losing cheap possession to lead to Dreyer’s big chance.
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