LIVERPOOL 2-1 AJAX: The Reds made up for their Napoli horror show with defender Joel Matip proving to be the matchwinner for the Reds against the Eredivisie champions at Anfield on Tuesday evening
Liverpool secured their first Champions League victory of the campaign as Joel Matip scored a heroic late winner against Ajax at Anfield on Tuesday.
The Reds enjoyed what looked to be a dream start to the game as Mohammed Salah gave them the lead just after the quarter of an hour mark only for Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus to level matters midway through the first half. Jorgen Klopp’s men continued to dominate the game and indeed the opportunities but were not able to find a route past their stubborn visitors.
Just as the game looked to be heading towards a draw, Matip stepped up at the perfect time to nod home late on to secure victory for the hosts.
With that being said, here are the game’s talking points from the showdown on Merseyside:
Anfield pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II
Before the players took to the pitch, Liverpool annnounced a number of tributes to Queen Elizabeth II following news of her sad death. There was slight concern from some quarters with Reds’ fans having regularly kept up with tradition of booing the national anthem.
However, those worries looked to be somewhat unfounded with a moment’s silence passing by without incident – allowing for just a couple of indiscretions. Applause certainly has to go to all of those inside Merseyside – both Liverpool and Ajax fans – for their impeccable tributes ahead of kick-off.
Salah finally back on track
Coming into this game, Egyptian forward Salah was four games without a goal in all competitions. Whilst that is by no means a catastrophe, compared to the Liverpool forward’s hugely impressife standards, it is a relative drought.
Klopp and Reds’ supporters will no doubt be relieved then to see Salah back on the scoresheet and it was a typical goal from the 30-year. He latched onto Diogo Jota’s excellent ball before hammering his strike past Ajax keeper Remko Pasveer into the near post.
Whilst the Merseysiders are not in action this weekend – thier game agaist Chelsea having been confirmed to be postponed – Salah will no doubt be keen to continue on the goal trail in Liverpool’s next outing against Brighton in early October.
Mohammed Kudus finally gets to enjoy Merseyside
Kudus might well be a name familiar to the blue half of Merseyside instead of the red. The Ajax midfielder was linked with a loan switch to Goodison Park on deadline day, only for the Eredivisie giants to pull the plug on a switch.
Both the club and he will likely be relieved they did. After scoring against Rangers in the first group game, the 22-year-old Ghanaian followed that up with another stunning strike that flew in off of Alisson Becker’s crossbar.
He now already has six goals to his name this season and looks well on the way to becoming a real star of European football – just not for Everton.
Alexander-Arnold’s defensive woes continue on landmark night
Whilst great acclaim has to go to Kudus for his goal, Liverpool defender Tent Alexander-Arnold might reflect on an evening where his defensive contributions have been called into question once more. The Liverpool right-back allowed Steven Berghuis to ghost in-behind him and pull the ball back towards Steven Bergwijn.
The ex-Spurs man missed his effort, only to see it fall to Kudus. Should Alexander-Arnold have tracked his runner properly then there is little chance that the goal would have happened. There is no doubting the Liverpool man’s quality – Rio Ferdinand having vouched for that. Speaking ahead of the game, he said: “I was looking at him concerned really because he’s a fantastic footballer, fabulous footballer, especially with the ball at his feet.
“I’ve watched him the Champions League as well against top left-wingers, shut them out one vs one so he’s got it in his locker. He can do it, no doubt about it.”
However, on what was his 50th appearance for the Reds in Europe, the right-back’s defensive awareness was left wanting once and it is becoming ever clearer it is something he certainly needs to work on.
Matip relieves Liverpool pressure
Having had 15 shots against Napoli and 23 against Ajax, it might have been said that the Reds created enough chances to win two games let alone one. However, most will argue that they were deservedly humbled at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona and did not really deserve much more than a point at Anfield.
A draw against Ajax would have left the Reds in third position in their group with just one point out of six and just two goals scored.
However, Matip changed the script with his late header and now Liverpool head into their clash with Scottish giants Rangers in a confident mood and a win at Ibrox will stand them in very good stead of booking their place in the next round and indeed with it continue their challenge for a seventh Champions League crown.