Trent Alexander-Arnold provides spark on dull European night at Anfield

On a European night at Anfield that was generally forgettable, the right back stood up and took control with a sparkling performance. SCOTT MASON reports.

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Liverpool continued their Champions League campaign on Tuesday evening with a relatively straight forward 2-0 win over Danish champions FC Midtjylland.

Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah scored the goals for their side with the Portuguese’ 55th minute strike being the clubs 10,000 goal across its history. With AFC Ajax and Atalanta B.C drawing 2-2 in the groups other fixture, the Red’s find themselves clear at the top of group D. 

The first half performance from Jürgen Klopp’s side was nothing short of flat. The home side struggled to put Midtjylland under any pressure, causing little threat across the opening 45 minutes. However, when the Premier League champions did manage to get going during the second period, Trent Alexander-Arnold was the architect of everything positive, with his creativity down the right flank proving too much for the Danish side. 

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The Englishman showed glimpses of his creative genius in the first half, creating one of the best chances in the 13th minute. Liverpool’s No.66 whipped in an excellent cross to Takumi Minamino, only for the Japanese international to misjudge the bounce of the ball and miss the opportunity with his left foot. 

Nine minutes later, the English fullback tried to tee up the No.18 once again. This time Alexander-Arnold dribbled his way into the oppositions box, beating four players on route, before trying to squeeze a pass through to the forward. The Englishman’s attempted pass was excellently intercepted at the last minute by Alexander Scholz. 

The same duo linked up for a final time in the first half in the 45th minute when the right-back spotted the run of the former RB Salzburg man. His pin point pass into the box found Minamino’s head, only for his effort to skew wide of the Mikkel Andersen’s goal. This would be the final chance of a poor first half from the home-side but there were signs that if they were to get a goal it would come down the right-hand side. 

When Liverpool’s breakthrough did eventually come just before the hour mark, it was from that potent right flank. Alexander-Arnold and Xherdan Shaqiri played an excellent one-two with the Swiss’ pass finding the 22-year-old in behind the Dane’s backline. A simple pass across the box found Diogo Jota who was left with the simple task of tapping home into an empty net. 

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The full-back continued to be a threat offensively for the rest of the game but his defensive work was a major highlight during the evening. He finished the 90 minutes with seven ball recoveries, three clearances, two interceptions and won two tackles to cap an excellent evenings work. 

The defender could have finished with another assist when his pass in the closing minutes sent Mohamed Salah through on goal. Unfortunately, for Alexander-Arnold, the Egyptian was brought down and a penalty was awarded. With Salah dispatching the pen, Trent was denied the opportunity to add to the ever-growing portfolio.  

It was the second European fixture in a row where the Red’s looked sub-par. As much as the evening was frustrating, Trent Alexander-Arnold was a major shining light, easily achieving the man-of-the-match award for the game. While a number of his teammates struggled to put a marker down, the England internationals vision and drive pushed his side forward, with the Reds finishing the evening in an excellent position to top their group. 

Liverpool’s next fixture is the Premier League tie against West Ham on Saturday evening, with a trip to Bergamo to play Atalanta B.C looming on Tuesday week.

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