Ibrahima Konate delivers “big hit” for Virgil van Dijk as Keita gets valuable minutes

In the battle of the Liverpool centre-backs, it was Ibrahima Konate‘s France that dished out an emphatic 4-0 defeat for Virgil van Dijk‘s Netherlands on another night of international action.

There were eight Liverpool players in action for their country on Friday, with six on the end of a winning scoreline and just one tasting defeat.

That solitary figure was Van Dijk, who captained his side at the Stade de France against Konate‘s France in their first Euro 2024 qualifier – both went on to play the full 90 minutes.

After the match, Van Dijk said, “I don’t know if it’s the worst international match I’ve had. It sure is a big hit,” with his team leaking four unanswered goals.

Inside 21 minutes, France were 3-0 up thanks to goals from Antoine Griezmann, Dayot Upamecano and Kylian Mbappe, with the fourth and final strike added by Mbappe in the 88th minute.

The Netherlands, who were left without a number of players due to illness, including Cody Gakpo, were easily sliced apart and “were too weak in the duels,” in the words of Van Dijk.

Over in Africa, there were respective 2-0 victories for both Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita, which leaves both Egypt and Guinea on six points in Group D after three Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

For Salah, it was a day for another milestone as he scored goal No. 50 for his country, seeing him join an exclusive seven-man list, which includes Didier Drogba.

Keita, meanwhile, made his first appearance since Liverpool’s draw at Crystal Palace and played 86 minutes for Guinea against Ethiopia.

Naby Deco Keita of Guinea during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match between Nigeria and Guinea at the Alexandria Stadium, Alexandria on the 26 June 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Likewise, there were valuable minutes for Kostas Tsimikas as Greece cruised to a 3-0 win over Gibraltar, with the left-back withdrawn after 85 minutes.

As for Liverpool’s youngsters, Calum Scanlon and Bobby Clark both played 61 minutes in a comeback 2-1 win over Croatia for England under-18s, while Mateusz Musialowski came off the bench in a draw for Poland U19s.

A host of Reds are expected to be in action on Saturday, including Andy Robertson, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones and as ever, the hope remains that they all come back fit and healthy.