Liverpool 2-1 Ajax
Champions League (2), Anfield
September 13, 2022
Goals: Salah 17′, Matip 89′; Kudus 27′
Alisson (out of 10) – 7
Alisson‘s form hasn’t been an issue of late, unlike many, and this was another solid night for him.
He could do nothing about Mohammed Kudus’ equaliser, but his distribution was good on the whole and he was assured in all facets of his game.
Made a big save after the interval, but offside was given.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
Another game, another defensive lapse from Alexander-Arnold, who switched off for Kudus’ strike, as we have seen so often this season.
Quite what is going on with Trent at the moment it’s hard to say, but there does appear to be a lack of focus on show too often.
He was good going forward, in fairness, and almost scored a stunning long-range effort from distance.
Might be nice if he wasn’t in the England squad and had the chance for a break now.
Joel Matip – 8
Matip returned to the team in place of Joe Gomez and was eventually the unlikely matchwinner.
He made a clear difference, bringing more poise and quality at centre-back, as well as coming out with the ball and using it well.
Then headed home a precious winner – his first Champions goal in nine years! It’s good to have him back.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Van Dijk’s form has deservedly been questioned of late, but this was much like it from Liverpool’s legendary Dutchman.
He was a dominant figure in the air and was more aggressive in his all-round game, also being denied twice by Remko Pasveer.
Still not at absolute full tilt, but encouraging signs.
Kostas Tsimikas – 8
Tsimikas came in for the injured Andy Robertson and he was increasingly excellent as the evening went on.
After a slow start, the Greek was bundle of energy, roaring forward, providing energy and mopping up defensively at key moment.
Many had been clamouring for him to start ahead of Robertson even when the Scot wasn’t injured and he certainly showed why.
Fabinho – 7
He kept things neat and tidy in the middle of the park, as well as biting into the tackles, and he looked like the weekend rest may have given him more legs.
Not great for Kudus’ goal though, it being scored from exactly where he should have been but was again slow at running back.
Thiago – 9 (Man of the Match)
Can we just clone Thiago and have three of him in midfield!
The Spaniard was a joy to watch on his return to the starting lineup, producing some magical turns, never losing the ball and providing so much invention in tight areas.
Good off the ball, too – something that is criminally underrated in his game – and kept battling even when his legs seemed to tire slightly.
Harvey Elliott – 7
Elliott’s off-the-ball qualities have come under the spotlight of late and he again didn’t excel in that area, being too far up for the equaliser.
Overall, the teenager was good, however, always looking forward in possession and linking up well with the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah.
Mohamed Salah – 7
That’s more like it, Mo!
Salah made a worrying start, running down blind alleys and appearing to lack confidence, before silencing the doubters with a well-taken finish.
From that point on, he looked far better, twisting and turning, beating opponents and looking like the player who has lit up Anfield so many times since 2017.
Luis Diaz – 7
Diaz was one of the very few blameless individuals at Napoli and he was again lively against Ajax.
The Colombian fired wide with the goal gaping before the break and never stopped trying, but he met his match in Devyne Rensch, not always having much joy.
Good header in the lead-up to Salah’s goal, though, and showed a superb attitude when Liverpool were searching for a winner.
Diogo Jota – 7
Jota was preferred to Darwin Nunez up front and the positives outweighed the positives overall.
He was a willing runner, battling hard up against Ajax’s defender, but his first touch let him down on a few occasions.
Assisted Salah’s strike and pressed well, which is what was needed.
Roberto Firmino (on for Elliott, 67′) – 6
Couldn’t really get into the game.
Darwin Nunez (on for Jota, 67′) – 5
Touch looked really poor and missed a huge chance.
James Milner (on for Diaz, 90′) – n/a
Not time to make an impact.
Champions League debut for a few seconds, in what was a proud moment.
Jurgen Klopp – 8
This was a huge night for Klopp, who has found himself under rare pressure after such an underwhelming start to the campaign.
The boss got a far better performances out of his team, though, sticking with the 4-3-3 formation until midway through the second half when he switched to 4-2-3-1.
Liverpool’s victory was richly deserved, with the display so much better on the whole, with a little more luck in front of goal leading to a more convincing win.
This was a back to basics type of performance; much more solid, more compact and more connected. The midfield did their jobs much better, while the full backs attacked less to give more solidity.