Liverpool won 2-1 vs AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening. Here are five things we learned from the game.
A little controversy
Jurgen Klopp took a small chance with his Liverpool starting XI vs Milan. The boss rotated heavily but did start both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
That had fans worried. As we saw a year ago with Diogo Jota, what if they got injured? It seemed like a needless risk as the Reds head into the campaign’s busiest stage.
As it turned out, there wasn’t much to worry about. Neither man picked up an issue (that we’re aware of), while Salah continued his wonderful form with a goal.
If it was a risk, Liverpool got away with it.
Let’s not glaze over how impressive this all was – AC Milan lead Serie A, beat Atletico Madrid two weeks ago, and Liverpool beat them with their second-string. That’s quite fantastic and not many clubs in the world could pull that off.
But with Neco Williams at right-back, Nat Phillips marking Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his first start of the season, and Tyler Morton running the midfield, Liverpool walked away with three points. It’s hard to argue against the club’s squad-depth right now, even if it isn’t perfect.
Some credit is due for this one, then.
Three bits of history out of this one. First-off, Liverpool are the only English side to have ever won all six group games after their win over Milan. That’s a remarkable achievement as this was not an easy group at all. In fact, it was the toughest group of the lot.
The Reds had to ride a bit of luck at times but they did it. A historic achievement.
The other records belong to Mohamed Salah, unsurprisingly. He’s now Liverpool’s record goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League, overtaking Steven Gerrard with his strike.
And the Egyptian also got his 20th of the season in the process. That goal against Milan makes him the first Liverpool player since Ian Rush to score 20 in five consecutive seasons. Rush did manage six, though – Salah has some work to do.
Divock Origi got a rare start here – and scored, naturally. It was a really impressive header, too, as he reacted quickly to the goalkeeper’s parry to divert the ball into the top corner.
Jurgen Klopp called him ‘one of the best finishers he’s ever seen’ after his weekend heroics. Origi just keeps backing that kind of talk up, as mad as it sounds.
The question is quickly becoming ‘can Origi cover Mane and Salah while they’re at AFCON?’. He’s got around a month to prove he can.
We’re going to mention this after every win, it seems, but Liverpool did wonderfully well to keep their momentum going here. They put out a weakened side against a team that was desperate to win, even though the Reds didn’t need three points.
The fact they still won is a wonderful thing, then, and it means Liverpool have answered the season’s only defeat remarkably well. That’s now six on the bounce since West Ham beat the Reds 3-2.
If Liverpool keep this momentum going, top-spot should be their by at least Christmas.