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Ibe & Firmino impress as Reds produce composed Euro display: 5 Talking points from Rubin Kazan victory

Following Liverpool’s timely 1-0 Europa League success against Rubin Kazan in Russia, we pick a number of talking points from the confidence boosting win.

KAZAN, RUSSIA - Thursday, November 5, 2015: Liverpool's Jordon Ibe [hidden] celebrates scoring the first goal against Rubin Kazan with team-mates during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at the Kazan Arena. (Pic by Oleg Nikishin/Propaganda)

Klopp’s Reds registered a vitally important opening win on the European stage, overcoming the Russian’s with a narrow 1-0 victory at the Kazan Arena and putting them in control of qualification from Group B.

Jordon Ibe’s superb run and finish after 52 minutes proved enough to win a game Liverpool dominated for the vast majority, picking up their third consecutive win in all competitions.

It could have a more comfortable victory with the Reds frustratingly wasteful in their shooting, but it was another good 90 minutes for Klopp’s side who impressed with another strong all-round performance.

Here are the talking points from the success.


Ibe impressive on return to form

KAZAN, RUSSIA - Thursday, November 5, 2015: Liverpool's Jordon Ibe celebrates scoring the winning goal against Rubin Kazan to seal a 1-0 victory during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at the Kazan Arena. (Pic by Oleg Nikishin/Propaganda)

The teenager has looked a different man since Klopp’s arrival and that was evident again in the Kazan Arean where he produced a match winning display.

From the first whistle Ibe was direct and purposeful, using his pace and power to cause problems down the right side where – with the help of the marauding Nathaniel Clyne – he was a danger all night, completing an almighty 11 dribbles.

Ibe was aggressive in and out of possession, confident both going on the outside and when drifting inside to link play, and it was his first ever Liverpool goal that provided the match winning moment as he finished superbly after a powerful run latching onto Firmino’s lay-off.

The wide-man provided a blistering dimension to the Reds attack, and he almost notched a second after being released by Adam Lallana, only to see his effort well saved, while also carving out a number of opportunities with his driving runs that the home side simply couldn’t cope with.

It’s great to see Ibe return to form – Klopp’s post-match elation shows he thinks so too – and long may it continue.


Firmino fantastic again

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 28, 2015: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino in action against AFC Bournemouth during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s no wonder Klopp made no secret over just how a big a fan he is of Firmino, with the Brazilian turning in another masterful performance.

The summer signing was again outstanding in his role in support of Christian Benteke, where he proved too sharp and intelligent for Kazan who couldn’t get anywhere near him all night.

Firmino orchestrated play superbly with his awareness, touch and link-play delightful throughout, and his brilliance allowed for the Reds to knit some intricate attacking play, which later saw him grab the assist for Ibe’s goal, with the teenager racing onto his perfectly weighted lay-off before slotting home.

He played the most key passes of the Reds (4), one of which James Milner should have scored from after an exquisite nut-meg and reverse pass put the vice-captain in on goal.

Firmino was guilty at times of being wasteful with his shooting but not even that could put a dampener on another display of sheer class.


Lovren provides food for thought with solid display

KAZAN, RUSSIA - Thursday, November 5, 2015: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren in action against Rubin Kazan's Marko Devi? during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at the Kazan Arena. (Pic by Oleg Nikishin/Propaganda)

Pressure was on Lovren, coming in for his first second under Klopp, but the Croatian played his part, producing a composed performance in Russia.

Partnering the ever impressive Mamadou Sakho at right centre-back, the Croatia international looked settled in the unnatural position, and he was calm and assured in his defensive work dealing well with what came his way.

He was decisive when coming out of the back-line to stifle opposing attacks – Lovren made the most interceptions and clearances of any Red (4) – and he was strong aerially and cleared his lines well, alongside playing some nice passes into midfield – posting an impressive passing accuracy of 91.6%.

It was pleasing to see Lovren slot in so comfortably alongside Sakho, and his performance may have provided food for thought for Klopp.


Wasteful shooting a continuing frustration

KAZAN, RUSSIA - Thursday, November 5, 2015: Liverpool's players line up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match against FC Rubin Kazan at the Kazan Arena Back row L-R: Roberto Firmino, Christian Benteke, Dejan Lovren, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Mamadou Sakho, Emre Can. Front row L-R: Alberto Moreno, Joe Allen, James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordon Ibe. (Pic by Oleg Nikishin/Propaganda)

There was one negative on a night of many positives for the Reds, with the poor long-range shooting from Klopp’s side.

The Reds have only four European goals to show from 72 shots on goal across the four group games – a  quite appalling return, and it’s no wonder with the amount of erratic shooting.

Benteke was wild in his attempts on two occasions – hitting the target with only one of five efforts – while Milner volleyed hopelessly over the bar and dragged another shot wide and Can failed to connect properly with a shot from the edge of the box.

Disappointingly for a man of his supreme talent, Firmino failed to register any of his four shots on target, dragging harmlessly across goal and slicing woefully wide on his favoured right foot as Liverpool saw decent opportunities to threaten the Kazan goal go to waste.

There’s a real frustrating lack of technique, composure and execution when shooting that is only added to as the sloppiness makes the task harder and leaves the Reds desperately hanging on.

It’s the only currently negative aspect of Klopp’s developing Liverpool and it’s a feature that needs addressing.


Vintage European away display brings three vital points

KAZAN, RUSSIA - Thursday, November 5, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match against FC Rubin Kazan at the Kazan Arena. (Pic by Oleg Nikishin/Propaganda)

It was a welcome throwback to a bygone era as the Reds played out a typically controlled European performance on the road.

Strong at the back, efficient in midfield, and dangerous in attack, Klopp’s side boasted, but more importantly executed, all the features of play needed to grab a vital three points away from home, and that they did.

Liverpool controlled proceedings from the off in midfield while looking capable of creating through the lively Ibe and Firmino at any time, and when the home side did enjoy a rare period of pressure, it was soaked up expertly by a disciplined defensive display marshalled superbly by Sakho as the Reds saw the game out.

The classic European away day display saw Liverpool claim their first win abroad in Euro competition since a 1-0 win over Udinese in 2012, and what a time to get it with the victory moving the Reds into a promising position to qualify from the group with two games left to play.

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