Victory “the best painkiller” on costly European night – Media on Liverpool 2-0 Midtjylland

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The media praised Liverpool for getting the job done in the 2-0 win over Midtjylland, but expressed regret that victory again came at a heavy price.

It was not a European night to remember at Anfield but it was very much job done as the Reds made it two wins from two in the Champions League.

Goals from Diogo Jota – who made history in scoring the club’s 10,000th goal – and Mohamed Salah ensured Jurgen Klopp’s men got over the line despite barely getting out of first gear.

Liverpool sit top of Group D with maximum points, ensuring the Reds are in the driver’s seat ahead of the upcoming double-header with second-placed Atalanta.

This was an important victory for the Reds, but one that came at a cost, as the media explained…

 

Reporters praised Liverpool for continuing to find a way to get results in a tough period on and off the pitch…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 27, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (R) celebrates with team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe noted how the Reds’ character “shone through” to get over the line, but also pointed out how Klopp’s team miss the buzz of the Anfield support:

Mohamed Salah’s injury-time penalty gave the scoreline a gloss as once more it was the character of Jurgen Klopp’s side which shone as they overcame the early loss of Fabinho to a hamstring injury.

[…]

“Liverpool did what they have done for the last three games – getting the job done while looking a shadow of the side we usually see in front of a vibrant audience.

[…]

“Every win feels like a toil at the moment. Each one seems to come at a cost. But Liverpool are still winning.”

Neil Jones, writing for Goal, praised Klopp’s men for earning an important win, but expressed regret at how it came at a heavy price with Fabinho’s injury:

“Victory, though, may well have come at a cost. Liverpool’s problems at centre-back are well known, and the sight of Fabinho limping off here does little to soothe their concerns.

[…]

“A hamstring, perhaps? That’s the last thing Jurgen Klopp needs right now.

[…]

“Injuries hurt, whether you’re a great side or an indifferent one. Victories, though, are the best painkiller there is.”

Meanwhile, the Independent’s Melissa Reddy was among several journalists to point out how hollow a European night at Anfield felt without fans:

“These European nights under the lights have a way of highlighting just how empty, sterile and stale football is in its Covid-affected state, without fans or magic or the feeling that something special is taking place.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 27, 2020: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' is treated for an injury during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And Bascombe quipped how it feels like the eventual winner of the Champions League will literally be the last team that can field enough of their strongest players:

“It already feels like the season of the last man standing, the biggest prizes earned not just by those with the greatest talent, but the fewest wounds.”

 

Members of the media offered assessments on the performances of those given a chance to shine…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 27, 2020: Liverpool's Divock Origi during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

BBC Sport’s Neil Johnston was unimpressed with all the attacking players given an opportunity to impress:

“This was Liverpool’s first game since August 2015 that none of their famed front three started yet the Reds failed to manage a single first-half shot on target for the first time in 51 home games.

Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri all struggled to make an impact during a flat home performance as Jurgen Klopp looked to rest Mane, Salah and Firmino during a hectic run of fixtures.”

ESPN’s Tom Fenton considered Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino as the biggest disappointments on the night:

“Liverpool didn’t register a single shot in the first half an hour – a damning stat indeed for the likes of Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino.

[…]

“Minamino and Origi flattered to deceive, meaning that Klopp was forced into bring on his first-choice front three in the second half.”

More positively, the Mirror’s Darren Wells was impressed with Xherdan Shaqiri’s “lively showing” and thinks the Swiss showed he will have a role to play throughout the season:

“Shaqiri has worked his way back into Klopp’s plans, and followed up his cameo against Ajax with another lively showing.

“His reverse pass to Alexander-Arnold to help set up the goal was superb, and in general he was a bundle of energy looking to make things happen. Perhaps there’s hope for him at Anfield yet.”

Jones reflected on a promising performance from Rhys Williams and explained how the teenager’s ‘Van Dijk-esque’ attributes could earn him more opportunities in Fabinho’s absence:

“His Champions League debut came as a late substitute at Ajax on Matchday One, but this was a more substantial taste for the teenager.

“He handled it well enough. There are shades of Van Dijk about his game: he is relaxed on the ball, competes well in the air and passes with confidence. He is also, as academy staff and team-mates will testify, an excellent talker on the field. Liverpool look like they will need him now.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 27, 2020: Liverpool players line-up before the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Elsewhere, Fenton labelled Trent Alexander-Arnold’s performance “excellent,” as Liverpool’s standout performer:

“Assisted Jota’s opener, from a move that the England international also initiated. Excellent in both directions, but tonight, his creativity in particular made all the difference.”

And Wells later praised Alisson for delivering at the big moments, and rightly assessed how much better the Reds look defensively with the Brazilian in goal:

“A good goalkeeper is worth his weight in gold. Alisson is probably worth double. At least to Liverpool that is. The Brazilian just oozes calm, and his presence behind Liverpool’s defence puts the rest of his colleagues at ease.

[…]

“Liverpool look a lot stronger with him back.”

 

Journalists discussed Liverpool’s deepening defensive injury crisis and how Klopp can reorganise the back line…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 27, 2020: Liverpool's substitute Rhys Williams during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

First of all, Bascombe discussed the wider origins of the injury emergency and bemoaned how the forced, shortened schedule is taking its toll and ultimately distorting the competition:

“More likely it was the sight of yet another muscle injury to one of the many hundreds of top-class players expected to overexert in trench warfare to keep the sponsors and broadcasters happy.

“Everyone agrees we need the release of football, but the foolishness of so much, so often, is starting to take its toll.”

The Guardian’s Andy Hunter took a second to compliment those who have stepped up so far in Virgil van Dijk’s absence, praising how the team have “responded faultlessly”:

“His team have responded faultlessly to Van Dijk’s injury in terms of results but resources are being stretched painfully thin at the back.”

On Klopp’s options, there were many advocates for Williams to be handed the chance, including from Fenton, who thought the youngster showed “he belongs at this level”:

“The biggest compliment you can give the young defender is that he looked like he belongs at this level. Given that he replaced a world-class talent in Fabinho, that’s a very good sign indeed.

[…]

Rhys Williams looked assured in the backline after coming on, which seemingly provides Jurgen Klopp with another centre-back option that he can rely on.”

The Mail’s Dominic King was on the same page and explained how Williams’ mature style of play should provide Klopp with confidence that the teenager is indeed ready:

“He reads the game well – one interception in the 57th minute caught the eye – and makes sensible passes and he will also benefit from having the imperious goalkeeper Alisson Becker behind him.

“Fate has put Williams in this position but his talent for this unexpected opportunity should not be doubted.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 27, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle thinks Jordan Henderson can be an option to fill in at centre-back, as we have already seen when the skipper played there in Liverpool’s Club World Cup triumph:

“Gomez, you suspect, will be busy in Italy. Whoever lines up alongside him – and Henderson could well be an option – remains to be seen.”

And the same reporter led the calls for Liverpool to sign another centre-back in January, assessing that failure from the club to do so would be “a dereliction of duty”:

“He may have to reassess that approach in January. Liverpool will hope Fabinho isn’t sidelined for too long but with the Reds rarely being able to rely on the fitness of Matip with any great regularity, reinforcement could become a necessity by the time the busy schedule for the remainder of the calendar year has been navigated.

“To not do so could be deemed a dereliction of duty.”

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