It would be wrong to suggest that this was a vintage Liverpool performance, but, with a depleted squad, tonight’s 1-0 win was a massive result for Jürgen Klopp’s side.
Ajax were the Anfield visitors, and looked to attack more than they had done during the reverse of this fixture. But with the Dutch Champions edging early possession, the hosts found counter-attacking opportunities, and Curtis Jones was only denied by the post after one such break.
That said, things were quieting down as the game wore on, until a misjudgement from André Onana presented Jones with an angled opportunity to take the lead, and the 19 year old steered home expertly.
The Reds probably should have doubled their lead before young goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher- preferred today to Adriàn- was called into action, when veteran striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar found a free header in the box.
Klopp’s delight at the final whistle was evident. And Midjtylland’s point away to Atalanta means Liverpool top their group, and some key players can be given a rest against the Danish side next week.
Your ratings, after a big night for the six-time Champions League winners:
Kelleher 7.5– the perfect night for the young Irishman. Relatively untroubled until he reacted well to tip the close-range Huntelaar header over his bar late-on.
Neco 6.5– improved display from the Brighton and Atalanta performances, and will be delighted with his assist courtesy of the Onana error. Most Ajax attacks came down the Reds’ right flank, however, and David Neres troubled the youngster with regularity.
Matip 7.5– headed most Dutch balls forward clear, and commanded the Liverpool backline well.
Fab 7– equally impressive from the home side’s more makeshift centre-back, until Huntelaar found his way in behind the Brazilian for the visitors’ late chance.
Robbo 7.5– just a standard Andrew Robertson performance, really, top class in all aspects. It was a huge relief when the Scottish international did not need to be brought off with a foot injury.
Jones 7.5– came close to opening the scoring with some testing strikes early on, one of which struck the woodwork. Brilliant technique and composure for the vital winner. Docked points only for some strange pressing moments, but the local boy is becoming a key member of this Liverpool squad. Man of the match.
Hendo 7– fairly quiet first half, bar a superb spin to start one counter-attack. Seemed to have more license to bomb forward after the break, and linked moves up well.
Gini 7– began to boss the midfield more as time ticked on. Typical Gini showing.
Salah 6.5– struggled to get involved before the interval, but sparked into life second half and movement caused Ajax huge problems. Should have scored at least one goal, and will be frustrated not to register.
Jota 6– key to some of the Reds’ early opportunities, but the final ball wasn’t quite there today for the Portuguese.
Mané 6– looked tired, in all honesty. The Senegalese’s touch occasionally deserted him, and he seemed to lack his usually world class burst.
Firmino 7.5– the Brazilian’s introduction rejuvenated Liverpool’s attack. Maybe Bobby has had the rest that he needed..
Rhys N/A– an extra defensive body for injury time.
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