Liverpool’s Champions League campaign is off to a flier following a 1-0 victory against Ajax.
The definitive moment may have required the odd sprinkle of lady luck with Nicolas Tagliafico’s own-goal proving the difference at The Johan Cruyff Arena, but Jurgen Klopp will not care one bit. Three points were all that mattered in the Dutch capital.
This was a victory built from the back. Liverpool’s defence was outstanding, and it needed to be, to fill the gargantuan void left in the absence of Virgil van Dijk.
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With Van Dijk likely to miss the majority of the season with a knee injury and Joel Matip also injured for the trip to the Netherlands, Fabinho stepped up, or dropped back, to partner Joe Gomez. He was nothing shy of sensational.
Fabinho’s performance typified just how valuable he is to this Liverpool team as the Brazilian’s versatility saw him fill the defensive void with aplomb.
His contribution was immense. Tough and resilient, plus ice-cool in possession, the Brazilian has become one of Liverpool’s most valuable players. Keeping him fit and healthy will be key to Klopp’s and the team’s ambitions this season, whether he is playing in defence or midfield.
Fabinho was utterly imperious and produced the moment of the match to deny Dusan Tadic an equaliser following a top-shelf acrobatic clearance off the line to deny the former Southampton attacker.
His statistical output epitomised just how pivotal Fabinho was to get his team over the line. He managed four tackles, nine clearences and four interceptions according to WhoScored.
Operating on the unfamiliar left-side of central defence, a lot of expectation was placed on the shoulders of Joe Gomez, who was Liverpool’s most senior central defensive option on the night.
The 23-year-old certainly stepped up and delivered one of his most mature and assured performances to date.
This was a reminder of how good Gomez can be, and it was probably one of his best ever games for the club when you consider he didn’t have Van Dijk alongside him as protection.
He made one tackle, four interceptions and 11 clearences, more than any of his teammates. If he can stay fit, he will be a huge player for Liverpool this season.
While Liverpool stood firm defensively, the team required one of their full-backs to inject some much-needed innovation and creativity in attack. Andy Robertson swiftly answered the call.
He made five key passes for his team, more than any other player on the pitch, and it was Robertson’s driving runs forward that ensured Liverpool remained on the front foot for large periods of the match.
It was an outstanding performance from the Scotland captain, who offered his team the perfect blend of attacking and defensive brilliance.
Jota may have only been on the pitch for less than an hour, yet he certainly has given Klopp a lot to think about from an attacking point of view.
When he got the ball out wide, Jota whipped in a fantastic cross with his left foot to spot the run of Georginio Wijnaldum who just needed a tidier finish to beat Ajax shot-stopper Andre Onana.
Jota was intelligent in his build-up play and was smart in possession particularly in the closing stages to help grind out a vital victory for his team.
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