The first half was an evenly contested affair, with both teams trading blows without putting either goalkeeper under too much pressure. When the requisite nervy moment was produced, both teams found the back of the net. AC Milan broke the deadlock through Fikayo Tomori midway through the first half after Alisson Becker failed to deal with a corner, parrying the ball straight to the English defender.
Shortly after, Liverpool brought the game back on level terms through Mohamed Salah, who was in the right place at the right time to score from a rebound after Mike Maignan directed a save from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain towards the Egyptian. The Reds started the second half strongly and were ahead just ten minutes in, courtesy of an error by Tomori.
Sadio Mane pounced on the mistake by the AC Milan defender but had his effort saved by Maignan. Once again, though, the Frenchman could only parry an initial shot, which went straight to Divock Origi, who headed in the rebound to make it 2-1. Milan looked to draw level after that but could not force a meaningful save out of Alisson, let alone trouble the Liverpool no. 1.
So, Liverpool held on to clinch a 2-1 win, which means they have ended the group stage campaign with a perfect record after the six rounds of fixtures. On the other hand, Milan’s European journey this season has ended. Atletico Madrid’s win over FC Porto means the Colchoneros are runners-up in Group B, while Porto finishes third to go down to the Europa League. The Hard Tackle runs the rule over both sets of players.
Alisson Becker: 6/10
Alisson made a fine stop in the second half to deny Franck Kessie. However, he should have done better in dealing with the corner coming his way instead of parrying the ball straight to Fikayo Tomori. Otherwise, there was not a lot to pick out from his performance.
Neco Williams: 8/10
With Trent Alexander-Arnold rested, Williams was a constant outlet down the right flank but also defended diligently for the most part. His link-up with Mohamed Salah was delightful, and on another day, the Welshman could have had an assist to show for his efforts.
Nathaniel Phillips: 8/10
A couple of days after Jurgen Klopp suggested that he could be sold, Phillips made a rare starting appearance for Liverpool. And the Englishman produced a professional display, winning six duels while completing four clearances and making a big block. He has to be sold, but he is making a good case for himself for prospective suitors.
Ibrahima Konate: 9/10
The leader of the Liverpool defence in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, Konate, was an immovable object at the back. The Frenchman barely put a foot wrong and marshalled Zlatan Ibrahimovic smartly while completing seven clearances, three interceptions, and two tackles.
Kostas Tsimikas: 7/10
Tsimikas endured a slow start to the game and had to do a fair bit of defending. However, the Greek defender was relentless once he found his feet, especially on his forward forays. He played one key pass while completing three tackles and two interceptions.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 9/10
Oxlade-Chamberlain would have been yearning to produce such a performance for a long time to prove he can still make a difference for Liverpool. The Englishman was purposeful in his display and linked up play nicely with Salah. He even played his part in one of the goals, as one of his efforts was parried straight to Salah by Mike Maignan for Liverpool’s opener.
Tyler Morton: 7/10
The Player to Watch in our preview, Morton had a difficult first half as Milan played around him. However, the teenage prodigy did exceedingly well after the break, wresting control from the hosts while making some key defensive contributions.
Takumi Minamino: 7/10
Back in the starting lineup, Minamino was deployed in the midfield trio, and he did not instantly take to the new role. However, the Japanese international gradually got used to the demands of the position, pulling the strings nicely along with Oxlade-Chamberlain while also playing three key passes.
Mohamed Salah: 8/10
Theo Hernandez’s adventurous outlook enabled Salah to carry a definitive threat in the final third. The Egyptian wizard also showed the creative side of his game, playing a joint-game-high three key passes. However, he also found the back of the net, scoring his seventh group stage goal this term by being in the right place at the right time.
Divock Origi: 8/10
Handed a start after his exploits against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Origi was a bundle of energy high up the pitch and put in the hard yards to help his team out. And when Liverpool needed him to score, the Belgian striker was positioned perfectly to slot home the rebound, which turned out to be the match-winner. What an asset for Klopp.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
After a difficult outing against Wolves on the weekend, Mane was close to his best against AC Milan. The Senegalese forward showed tremendous energy and kept Pierre Kalulu under the cosh. Mane also made his mark on the game, pouncing on an error by Fikayo Tomori before drawing a save from Maignan, whose parry ended up straight towards Origi for the winner.
Naby Keita: 7/10
Making his return from an injury, Keita kept play ticking and even engineered a couple of key passes. It was a nice cameo to signal his comeback.
Joe Gomez: 7/10
On for Mane, Gomez was a solid customer at the heart of the Liverpool defence and was not put under any pressure by the AC Milan attack.
A late introduction, Fabinho helped see the game out.
Max Woltman: N/A
Introduced in injury time, Woltman did not have much to do but will remember the day for the rest of his life after being handed his Liverpool debut.
Conor Bradley: N/A
A late introduction, Bradley helped see the game out.