The best player in England began his European Crusade with the aim of not allowing the absence of the best defender in the world and Alison, one of the most prominent goalkeepers, to colorize their performance or comment on the result. Contrary to expectations, Liverpool kept a clean sheet.
Standing alongside excellent Joe Gomez, Fabinho calmed down and canceled the hosts in a largely untidy first half.
The Brazilian international offered clearance from the highest levels to thwart a specific goal, and made three more, along with four tackles, two interceptions and a block – and that was just in the first 45 minutes. By the end of the game, he had won 80% of his duels.
Meanwhile, Gomez produced 11 rebounds and 10 tackles, winning 85.7% of his fights. The pair made a steel offer to build on during Van Dyck’s long absence.
At the other end of the field, Liverpool gifted the opening match after half an hour had passed thanks to a burlesque goal from Nicolas Tagliavico, who tried but failed to respond properly to Sadio Mane’s struggling effort across the penalty area, only managing to block it. In his net without any pressure.
Ajax pressed to try to atone for the mistake, as Dusan Tadic seemed sure to restore parity after chasing rebounds and cutting Adrian.
Just as the ball was prepared to cross the line, Fabinho recovered in time to acrobatically cut it away to crown his excellent first half show.
Liverpool’s defensive start was not as guaranteed as these qualifiers. Adrian reached Gomez within two minutes, and the center back was unhappy that the goalkeeper did not stay and waited for the back pass, but rather pushed to clear it.
There were several other dirty incidents spilling over into midfield angering Jürgen Klopp, but Liverpool weren’t too upset.
Quincy Promise, early on to replace the injured Mohamed Kudos, tried to defeat Liverpool by dazzling interaction with Tadic and David Neres. However, Davy Klasen was the closest to the Dutch side with a superb shot that hit the right corner from the inside early in the second half.
Liverpool’s intention to hit three up front early was clear from the start. Mane, in particular, had considered one of those anti-world moods in which every move for him was shaped to win the game.
Klopp pulled Senegalese international Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in the 60th minute in favor of Diogo Jota, Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino – the spirited trio as submarines.
Jordan Henderson, who was between half and recently returned from injury, was also given more minutes as Klopp attempted and rhymed the rotations before an intense clip in the schedule.
Given the circumstances, this was a match for Liverpool to get over, manage and win with the least amount of fuss. In this context, the mission was accomplished.
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