Liverpool kicked off their Champions League campaign with a 1-0 win over Ajax – their first win in four games.
Ajax 0-1 Liverpool
The Reds earned their first win in four as they started their European campaign with a solid display away from home against Erik ten Hag’s Dutch champions.
A Nicolas Tagliafico own goal ten minutes before half-time was enough for the Reds to seal their first three points of Group D.
Jurgen Klopp sprung somewhat of a surprise with his starting selection, with Curtis Jones, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum starting together in midfield for the first time. Jordan Henderson was named on the bench while Fabinho lined up in defence alongside Joe Gomez.
Liverpool appeared to play within themselves inside the opening 20 minutes, with Virgil van Dijk’s absence resulting in the Reds’ insecurity at the back showing at times.
Chances were far and few between both sides in the opening half-hour, although there were small glimmers of counter-attacking opportunities for either team.
Ajax had a glaring opportunity to score through Quincy Promes, who marginally beat the offside trap but saw his close-range shot blocked by Adrian.
It was Liverpool who eventually made the breakthrough – in fortunate circumstances – as Nicolas Tagliafico diverted Sadio Mane’s deflected shot past his own goalkeeper to give the Reds the lead.
A surging run by Andy Robertson found Mohamed Salah in space, but the Egyptian couldn’t find the back of the net with one of his typical curling strikes as defender Noussair Mazraoui got a block in to veer the ball away.
Liverpool came millimetres away from conceding an equaliser as Dusan Tadic looked to have looped the ball into the back of the net.
But Fabinho alertly made up the ground to clear the ball off the line, saving the Reds’ blushes just before the break.
Henderson came on from the bench to replace Jones at half-time as Klopp looked to the skipper’s leadership in the second half.
Ajax nearly levelled just minutes after the break as Davy Klaassen’s effort struck the inside post of the post after a fingertip push by Adrian.
Minamino and Jota both had shots from range as the Reds struggled to grab the crucial second to put the game to bed.
Ajax went hell for leather for the final ten minutes as two strikers, Lassina Traore and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, replaced two centre-halves to mount the pressure on Liverpool’s back-line.
The Reds put together some clever moves in the final minutes as they came close through Gini Wijnaldum and again from Minamino – but it finished 1-0 to Klopp’s side in the end.
The result represents a successful evening for the Reds, who put behind two defeats and a draw in their last three games to return to winning ways.
Meanwhile, Atalanta beat Midtjylland 4-0 in the other Group D fixture of the night, with the Reds sitting second in the group table behind the Italian side.
Liverpool XI: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Gomez, Robertson, Milner, Wijnaldum, Jones, Salah, Firmino, Mane.
LFC Globe’s MOTM: Fabinho
Next Fixture: Sheffield United (H) – 24 Oct, 8pm