REPORT | Midtjylland 1-1 Liverpool: VAR steals the headlines as rotated Reds see out UCL group stage

A heavily rotated Liverpool side earned a point against Midtjylland as VAR once again stole the headlines.

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Mohamed Salah continued his fine goal-scoring form in Denmark before a confusing VAR decision stole the headlines in what turned out to be a close 1-1 contest against Midtjylland.

Jürgen Klopp made eight changes from the side that put Wolves to the sword at the weekend. Trent Alexander-Arnold returned to the lineup as captain, with the young scouser being joined by Rhys Williams, Kostas Tsimikas, Naby Keita, Takumi Minamino, Diogo Jota and Divock Origi in the lineup. The eighth and final change for the Reds came in the form of Leighton Clarkson, who was granted his UCL debut by Klopp.

The Reds got the perfect start to the game as they were ahead within the opening 60 seconds through Salah.

A loose pass back by Alexander Scholz and then a subsequent defensive error by the Midtjylland captain Erik Sviatchenko set the Egyptian through on goal against Jesper Hansen. Salah carried the ball into the penalty area before somewhat fortunately poking the ball through the legs of the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. 0-1 to the Reds.

Following the goal the heavily rotated Reds continued to boss the game, dominating possession, pressing their opponents high up the pitch and looking the more dangerous side.

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The Reds had a golden chance to double their lead on the half hour mark as brilliant play by Keita set Salah away with Origi in support. The Egyptian slipped through his Belgian teammate who looked to place the ball into the corner first time but could only flash his effort wide of Jensen’s post.

The missed chance almost came back to haunt Liverpool within seconds as Midtjylland went up the end of the pitch and almost equalised through a Sory Kaba header. The Guinean climbed highest at the far post and directed his header past Caoimhin Kelleher only to see his goal bound effort cleared off the line by Fabinho.

As the half ticked on the home side began to look the more composed of the two sides as an air of complacency began to creep into Liverpool’s play, with Klopp’s men struggling to string passes together and to keep hold of the ball.

With this being said the Reds saw out the rest of the half and went into the break leading.

The start of the second half saw Klopp grant yet another UCL debut, sending on Billy Koumetio who was brought on in the place of Fabinho who was given time to rest before his expected inclusion at the heart of defence against Fulham.

Koumetio, who becomes Liverpool’s youngest UCL debutant, can certainly claim to have been thrown in at the deep end by his manager as his opening minutes for the Reds in Europe saw him head clear a corner before the Danish outfit struck the crossbar of Kelleher’s goal.

Midtjylland’s threatening start to the half eventually ended up in the home side drawing level through a Scholz penalty on the hour mark.

Expertly converted by the Danish international, the decision to give the penalty was met with much confusion as Anders Dreyer, who was brought down by Kelleher to win the spot kick, appeared to be offside however, VAR appeared to only check the foul as opposed to a potential offside in the build up. 1-1.

It didn’t get any better for Liverpool immediately following the penalty as Tsimikas was forced off with an injury resulting in the introduction of Andrew Robertson who Klopp would have been hoping to rest for the entirety of the contest.

The home side grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck following the goal and almost looked to have nicked the lead in the 75th minute when Scholz smashed home his second of the game from close range. VAR was much more conclusive in this instance however and they ruled the effort out for offside.

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With Midtjylland growing in confidence, Klopp introduced Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino as he looked to get a hold of the game.

His substitutes no doubt helped the Reds see out the result and finish the group stage atop with 13 points, as did Kelleher who repeated his Ajax heroics and produced a marvellous save in the final minutes to deny a Sviatchenko header.

The Reds almost looked to have won it late on through Minamino however VAR intervened yet again to rule out the goal after an apparent hand-ball by Sadio Mané in the build up.

Liverpool are next in action on Sunday when they return to Premier League action and travel down to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham.

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