LIVERPOOL 3-0 Maribor
Liverpool once again defeated their Slovenian Group E opponents in the Champions League, this time at Anfield.
The last time Liverpool played this side, they’d won away from home by a 7 goal margin, making us favourites to be winners for the next fixture between the two teams for when they’d play at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp of course changed up his squad as he does to make it different to that of the Premier League games he’d pick squads for. Karius would be the goalkeeper, Lovren and Coutinho both have injuries so Klavan and and Oxlade Chamberlain made Champions League starts and James Milner’s being used in midfield (Moreno’s at left back mostly this season) while Jordan Henderson only got a spot on the substitute bench. No complaints about that lineup, it’s as strong as the side which had won by 7 goals. I had expected to win, though not really by 7 goals again. Just by a few, assuming that they (Maribor) would have been able to focus a little harder and try to tighten up their defence in specific areas that would see them concede less this time around. As it turns out, my assumption was correct. We’d only score 3 goals this time.
The manager would need to make a change to his lineup fairly early on as a substitution was required when Wijnaldum got injured and needed to be replaced by Jordan Henderson.
According to the club itself, a “scan is needed to find out the extent of the injury” but at last look, Jurgen Klopp had seen some swelling on Gini’s ankle. Even if it was just twisted and swolen instead of broken or fractured, it’ll be a short while before we see this player back in the starting 11 again.
Despite recording 83.5% possession in the first half, Liverpool could only create two shots on target, and the closest they came to scoring the first goal in the first half was when Jasmin Handanovic tipped Roberto Firmino’s heavily-deflected effort onto the bar. As it had happened against Huddersfield in the Premier League, there was no goals scored by the break.
It was all level, even if Liverpool had dominated possession and continually attacked their opponents in their own “Fortress” (Anfield).
Maybe the manager had an inspirational team talk at half time or maybe he didn’t really need to say much more than “you beat these guys by 7 goals last time we played them, get out there and score and win”.
Liverpool would come out and continue the attacks but this time, we’d convert our chances into goals.
Four minutes after the break however, relief erupted around Anfield as Salah converted Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross.
The Egyptian made it Liverpool 1-0 Maribor by the 49th minute and we seemed to be controlling and directing our efforts in the game better 4 minutes into this half than we had for the first 45 minutes played previously.
We’d even win a penalty which could have doubled our lead when Roberto Firmino had found himself in a dangerous position, ready to shoot and score when he was roughly pulled by his shirt to the ground.
James Milner would step up to take the penalty but unfortunately it was saved. I highly respect James Milner’s penalty taking skills and it was just a tremendous save that stopped us from scoring., I’d still select Milner every time to take our penalties in the future. Nobody scores 100% of all penalties they ever take (especially if they are the selected set piece taker and will therefore take lots of penalties), some goalkeepers just have good performances and manage to save some occasionally, no matter how good the player taking the penalty is.
Milner would still contribute to a goal later on in the game though.Around the 64th minute Liverpool did get their second goal from Can, who played a quick one-two with Milner before curling his shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area. Nice assist, James. It was a pleasure to watch as it all worked out well and helped make the score Liverpool 2-0 Maribor.
Sturridge was only a late introduction to the game as has been known to happen with him (he’s quite the super-sub), but he got his first Champions League goal for Liverpool when smashing one past Handanovic to convert Alberto Moreno’s well assisted cross.
Liverpool kept their cool from any and all attacks at the back line with Klavan and Karius performing well when needed, stopping all opposition as they looked to maybe even claim a consolation goal but Liverpool would yet again keep a clean sheet and have ensured that this side would never score against them over two fixtures while we have managed ten goals against them in total.
Man of the Match
Daniel Sturridge would have cause to dance yet again as he perfectly displayed just how to optimise the short time he is given yet again to finish off the opponents, scoring even in an appearance as only a substitute. Dangerous is dangerous, no matter how long you play for. Sturridge was dangerous.
Alberto Moreno really helped him out with a well placed ball thrown in from the left wing but Sturridge still had to keep his cool under pressure from defenders, get into shooting position and make sure to connect well with the ball flying in and put it past the goalkeeper. A fine finish for the game and he continues to impress while Coutinho is injured and not available. Why not make him our main striker, to start for every game? He’s scored in both Premier League and Champions League this season and I would say he deserves a full 90 minutes after all he’s done lately. Jurgen Klopp has more to think about over team selection when Sturridge is playing this well.
The Reds travel to London as West Ham prepare to face Liverpool on Saturday evening.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our victory and look forward to the coming fixture. Walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.