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Liverpool 2-1 Ajax: Matip header secures vital Champions League win

Liverpool were desperate for a win as they hosted Ajax in the Champions League, and though they left it late, a Joel Matip header finally sealed a 2-1 victory.

Liverpool 2-1 Ajax

Champions League Group Stage (2), Anfield
September 13, 2022

Goals

Salah 17′ (assist – Jota)
Kudus 27′
Matip 89′ (assist – Tsimikas)


After the mother of all collapses at Napoli a week previous, Liverpool needed a big response at Anfield, with an unbeaten Ajax side visiting for the second game of Group A.

The Reds were certainly the more dominant side in the opening stages, roared on by a home crowd denied a weekend game after the meeting with Wolves was postponed.

It was fitting, then, that a chorus of Mohamed Salah‘s song was followed by an opener from the Egyptian, who latched onto Diogo Jota‘s pass and fired to Remko Pasveer’s right, the goalkeeper previously having not conceded in nine hours of action.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 13, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (hidden) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There was almost an immediate comeback from Ajax, with an offside Steven Berghuis hitting the bar from close range, while both Jota and Luis Diaz fired wide as confidence grew.

But the familiar frailties were uncovered again before the half-hour mark, with Liverpool’s defence split to allow Mohammed Kudus to elude Virgil van Dijk and blast home an equaliser.

Brilliant, direct play from Matip and Diaz led to an opportunity for Trent Alexander-Arnold as he cut back onto his left, but Pasveer was on hand for a double save to keep it level for half-time.

HT: Liverpool 1-1 Ajax

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 13, 2022: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' (C) is challenged by AFC Ajax's Steven Berghuis (L) and Jurriën Timber during the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There were no changes at the break as Jurgen Klopp hoped for more of the same – with a steadier defensive effort – from his side as the atmosphere bubbled at Anfield.

Liverpool were continually frustrated, though, either at the strength of Ajax’s back line or the lack of fluency in their own passing play, with the right-hand side particularly struggling.

On came two forwards as Klopp turned to Roberto Firmino and Darwin Nunez, and with Jota and Harvey Elliott making way it saw the Reds take up an attacking 4-2-3-1 shape.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 13, 2022: Liverpool's substitute Darwin Núñez and Roberto Firmino prepare to come on during the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Desperate to up the tempo but largely unable to do so, Liverpool almost conceded a second of the night as Premier League alumni combined, Daley Blind somehow heading Dusan Tadic’s cross wide.

A smart move involving Matip, Firmino and Salah saw the No. 11 lay it on for Nunez, but the Uruguayan was unable to get his effort on target, while later on a deflected effort saw Salah strike the post.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 13, 2022: Liverpool's Joël Matip scores the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But from that corner, up popped Matip to power a header home and seal a vital win for Liverpool – their first three points of the Champions League group stage.


TIA Man of the Match: Kostas Tsimikas

Referee: Artur Dias (POR)

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Elliott (Firmino 66′), Thiago (Bajcetic 90+4′); Salah, Diaz (Milner 90+1′), Jota (Nunez 66′)

Subs not used: Adrian, Davies, Gomez, Phillips, Arthur, Carvalho

Ajax: Pasveer; Rensch (Sanchez 68′), Timber, Bassey, Blind; Alvarez, Berghuis, Taylor (Grillitsch 81′); Bergwijn, Tadic, Kudus

Subs not used: Stekelenburg, Gorter, Klaassen, Brobbey, Ocampos, Kaplan, Lucca, Baas, Regeer, Magallan

Next match: Brighton (H) – Premier League – Saturday, October 1, 3pm (BST)

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