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Liverpool 1-0 Ajax: Player Ratings

Liverpool picked up a 1-0 win at home to Ajax on Tuesday, with match-winner Curtis Jones impressing for the Reds as they reached the Champions League last 16.

Liverpool 1-0 Ajax

Champions League Group Stage (5), Anfield
December 1, 2020

Goals: Jones 58′

Caoimhin Kelleher (out of 10) – 9

It was a huge occasion for Kelleher, who made his Champions League debut in the absence of Alisson, being picked ahead of Adrian.

The youngster was a confident presence between the sticks, showing good distribution and twice making smart saves to deny Noussair Mazraoui and Antony.

Kelleher saved his best moment until last, however, saving magnificently from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the dying minutes.

He will be delighted with his performance and received a huge hug from Jurgen Klopp straight after the final whistle.

Neco Williams – 7

Williams was looking for a more accomplished performance than the one he produced at Brighton, which he managed.

It wasn’t perfect from the 19-year-old, by any means, with his passing and positional sense not always reliable, but he grew into the game enormously.

Got the assist for Jones’ goal, with increasingly positive signs as the minutes ticked by.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Liverpool's Joel Matip during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joel Matip – 8

Matip made a welcome return to Liverpool’s starting lineup, partnering Fabinho at the heart of the Reds’ defence.

The Cameroonian was faultless overall, dominating aerial battles and bringing an air of calm to the side, particularly in the second half.

Matip staying fit is so important this season.

Fabinho – 8

Continuing in the centre-back role he is making his own, Fabinho was excellent, marshalling the troops like a seasoned defender.

He made some key interceptions, preventing Ajax from getting into dangerous positions, and he was also assured in possession.

One of the most intelligent players Liverpool have.

Andy Robertson – 7

Robertson has been superb so far this season and he was a strong performer again at Anfield.

The Scot had an injury scare early in the first half, but seemed to run it off, before providing constant overlaps and hitting the side-netting with one cheeky effort from a tight angle.

Quieter after the interval.

Jordan Henderson – 7

Henderson returned to the Liverpool midfield, fresh off the back of his BBC Sports Personality of the Year nomination.

The skipper was a composed figure in the middle of the park, keeping things simple on the whole and doing his defensive duties well.

One lovely pass to Sadio Mane highlighted his underrated creativity.

Gini Wijnaldum – 7

Wijnaldum has been colossal in recent weeks – with so many players getting injured around him, he has almost been an ever-present this season.

Liverpool’s No. 5 was again impressive, not showing signs of wear and tear, combining his usual industry and intelligence.

Barely put a foot wrong.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Liverpool's Curtis Jones celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Curtis Jones – 9 (Man of the Match)

Klopp opted for a 4-3-3 formation, meaning Jones came into a three-man midfield.

The teenager started superbly, testing Andre Onana and then hitting the post with a superb effort, before a special moment occurred in the second half.

Jones finished well in front of the Kop to score the only goal of the game, completing a highly impressive outing.

Mohamed Salah – 6

Salah started out on the right-hand side, even though Roberto Firmino‘s absence meant he could potentially have led the line.

He did his best to make things happen but was marshalled well by Ajax’s defenders, often being limited to twisting and turning in tight spaces.

Almost scored after the break, but Onana thwarted him.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Sadio Mané of Liverpool and Perr Schuurs of Ajax during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Sadio Mane – 5

Mane’s form has been below-par by his world-class standards recently, scoring only twice since the end of September.

He was again slightly flat on Tuesday night, lacking his usual blistering pace and often overthinking on the ball and making bad decisions.

The Senegalese was a threat at times, but he looks like someone who has played a lot of football.

Diogo Jota – 6

Liverpool’s man of the moment started down the middle for the Reds, but it didn’t quite happen for him.

Two heavy touches in the first half, when in excellent positions, proved to be frustrating, but he did look dangerous throughout.

Replaced by Firmino midway through the second half.



LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 25, 2020: Liverpool's Rhys Williams during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta BC at Anfield. Atalanta won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Roberto Firmino (on for Jota, 68′) – 7

Looked sharp and was denied superbly by Onana, after a wonderful move involving Henderson and Salah.

Rhys Williams (on for Salah, 89′) – N/A

No time to make an impact.

Subs not used: Adrian, Jaros, Tsimikas, Cain, Clarkson, Minamino, Origi


Jurgen Klopp – 8

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp gives a television interview before the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Yet another match arrived for Klopp, who continues to tackle a combination of relentless fixtures and endless injuries.

The boss knew that only a draw needed to reach the last 16 and he got a solid display out of his team, even though it was rarely spectacular.

Job done, and key men can be rested against Midtjylland next Wednesday, which is a welcome bonus.

Player ratings definitions: 10 = Faultless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very Good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very Bad | 2 Awful | 1 = Surely Not

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