Brazil international Fabinho produced another defensive masterclass for Liverpool to help inspire a vital 1-0 win away at Ajax. His performance warranted a response from footballing icon Deco.
This was just what the doctor ordered for Liverpool. It was not pretty, far from it. Victory in Amsterdam came courtesy of the most comedic of own goals, scored by Nicolas Tagliafico 10 minutes before half-time in the Johan Cruyff Arena.
If luck had deserted them at Goodison Park on Saturday, it was back in Liverpool’s possession here. The big moments went the way of the Premier League champions, with Ajax twice within a whisker of equalising either side of half-time.
But after the chaotic past few weeks that had cast a few dark shadows across Liverpool, this was the light the team needed. A slender win, that was inspired by gritty and resilient defending and some much-deserved lady-luck.
Fabinho’s imperious display capped off a strong all-round performance from the whole team. Liverpool had to show an uglier side of their game and went back to basics to grind out a dogged and tactically mature victory.
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The 26-year-old powerhouse produced the moment of the match to save his team in the first half. Former Southampton striker Dusan Tadic must have thought he had drawn Ajax level after his chipped effort beat Adrian only for Fabinho to race back and produce a top-shelf acrobatic clearance off the line.
It drew comparisons to the heroics of James Milner against Bournemouth last season and it typified the Reds’ never-say-die attitude to continuously put their bodies on the line for the benefit of the team.
To see Joe Gomez and Fabinho, the 35th different centre-back pairing Klopp has picked in five years at Anfield, turn in performances like this demonstrated that a squad littered with as many world-class options as Liverpool can still survive even in the absence of the best defender on the planet.
Fabinho’s contribution was immense. Combative, tough and resilient, his ability to read the game and thwart away danger was a joy to watch. He has slowly become one of Liverpool’s most valuable players. Keeping the former him fit and healthy could have serious ramifications to their ambitions this season, whether he is playing in defence or midfield.
He made four tackles, nine clearences, four interceptions and won 80% of his aerial duels to cap off a perfect performance in Amsterdam according to WhoScored.
After the match, Fabinho took to social media to celebrate as Liverpool got their Champions League campaign off to a perfect start.
Big one tonight 🚫👀 pic.twitter.com/4P522YEgKn
— Fabinho (@_fabinhotavares) October 21, 2020
Fabinho described the victory as a ‘big one’ as the Reds moved into a commanding position in Group D.
The imperious Brazilian also received praise from Liverpool icon Jamie Carragher who labelled Fabinho as ‘excellent’.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) October 21, 2020
He also received a message from Champions League-winning midfielder and Barcelona legend Deco. The former Portugal international sent Fabinho a message on Instagram following his defensive masterclass.
This may have been a team performance, but as Carragher points out, some performances, in particular, are worth getting excited about.
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