Liverpool hosted AC Milan in the first game of the Champions League group stage and it was a classic. A fast start saw Liverpool go a goal up through Tomori’s own goal before they won a penalty after Bennacer handled in the box. Maignan saved Salah’s penalty and Jota’s follow up and Milan gained confidence.
They hit Liverpool cold on the counter twice in five minutes through Rebic and Brahim Diaz to go in at the break 2-1 up. Liverpool kept going though and Mohamed Salah equalizes before Jordan Henderson did a tribute act to Steven Gerrard with a perfectly hit strike from the edge of the box. Read on for player ratings from the encounter.
Alisson – 7.5
Not much he could do about either goal, the first one was perfectly placed into the bottom corner. He was quick off his line to gather a couple of balls in behind, two especially the second half were lifesavers. One was to deny Rebic getting onto a pass, the other to punch a long ball aimed at Giroud. He did well to hold on to Kjaer’s near-post flick, with two Milan players waiting to tap in any spill.
Alexander-Arnold – 7.5
The first half-hour, Trent was exceptional. He was running the game from right back again and giving Theo Hernandez and Leao hell down that wing. It was a typical marauding run and attempted cross which took a deflection and went past Maignan. He was a metronomic attacking force of nature.
As the game got wild though, Leao punished the space he had left behind as both goals came down that avenue. He was also guilty of being too careless in possession at 3-2. With time running out he needed to keep the ball better but he kept trying more risky passes. It’s easy to forget he’s still 22 so that part of his game will come with time.
Matip – 7.5
He’ll be disappointed he didn’t cut out the pass before their second goal, he got a bit on it but not enough, as Milan took full advantage. A bit of a lack of communication between him and Gomez meant the defence line was distorted. Joel played well though, some of his line-breaking passes helped us build so many attacks. He was a threat from set-pieces too.
Gomez – 7
It is not the easiest game to come in for your first appearance in almost a year. He started really well too, stepping in front of his man and winning the ball several times. When they cut through us though, he looked bamboozled. To his credit, he didn’t lose his head and kept going. Second half he came out and defended well. One crucial header denied Giroud from getting in. Not a bad performance, a welcome return to action.
Robertson – 8
The lungs on this guy! Eternally bombing up and down that left flank, he started like a house on fire, as did the whole team to be fair. His levels didn’t dip though, and he was unfortunate that his goalline clearance wasn’t followed up by a redshirt. Full of energy from minute one to ninety-five. One of our best performers tonight. Won the penalty after his cross-shot hit Bennacer’s outstretched hand.
Fabinho – 7
In their first goal, he was left for dead by Leao down our right-hand side. No chance he was catching him there, and Milan capitalized and scored. He was too easily bypassed a few times, and it wasn’t the Fabinho we saw mop up everything at Elland Road. They cut through our midfield too easily for their goals and you have to question the man tasked with shielding the defence. Second half he had a much more solid base of performance.
Henderson – 7
He was poor for large parts and the Anfield crowd let him know. He wasn’t offering much in an attacking sense, and he wasn’t giving Trent the necessary cover to deal with the pacy Leao either. He and Trent were both caught out of position for their first goal as Fabinho was left in a foot race against Leao. He redeemed himself with that goal though and basically won us the three points. His celebration was a direct response to the fans in the Main Stand who had given him grief throughout. Good response by the skipper.
Keita – 7
Just like the team, he started well. He was playing well, winning the ball back when we lost it, and keeping it well when he got it. Second half he became too interested in dribbling past his man than actually causing damage. He was caught on it, as a result, a few times. A promising performance that lacked a cutting edge. He was subbed late on as he tired. Not a bad performance.
Salah – 8
Missed a penalty for the first time in a while. That run of consecutive conversions had to come to an end sometime. He didn’t let up though, he was constantly running in behind and causing Theo Hernandez all sorts of bother. He didn’t always successfully get past him but he did enough to pin him back. Mo was clinical when Origi put him through, ruthless, timed his run well to stay onside. Given a breather late on. He filled in at right-back when Trent was caught up the pitch at one point and intercepted a pass meant for Rebic.
Jota – 7.5
Was involved a lot but never really got too many clear-cut chances. He carried a threat first half, with his hard running an unorthodox style. Unlucky not to score when he wriggled free in the box but his shot was bravely blocked by the veteran Kjaer. Helped out Robbo going the other way too, so many times he dropped back into the left-back area to help deal with Calabria and Diaz. He will be disappointed he couldn’t score from the rebound of the saved penalty.
Origi – 7
A surprise inclusion as he’s not started a game in a while. It showed too as he had a number of rusty touches. He worked hard though, gave Tomori and Kessie no time on the ball early on, and was generally a nuisance. He should have done better with a left-footed shot from the edge of the box which he screwed wide. Unreal scooped pass for Salah to equalize. If Trent made that pass we’d be eulogizing about it for weeks. That was spectacular. Went down with a cramp I suspect and was subbed.
Mané – 6
Came on for Divock and played through the middle-late on. I don’t know what is up with him of late but he needs to do better when in and around the box. Tomori’s failed clearance fell to him and he had only the keeper to beat but curiously took too many touches and was crowded out. He’s been doing a lot of that over the past three games.
The usual Sadio just hits it the first time and puts the game to bed, this version is just second-guessing himself. Outside the box, though he’s effective. Defends well, holds the ball up well, and offers a threat of pace in behind to keep their defenders honest.
Thiago – 7
Came on to help us get a hold of the ball and keep it to take the sting out of the game. Did that whenever he got it. Did really well to help Fabinho in the box when Kessie had him pinned, that could have been hairy. Surprised he doesn’t start on nights like this. I thought this is just the kind of occasion we bought him for when technical excellence is required in midfield.
Jones – 7
Played left wing and was very controlled and matured. He got the ball and wriggled out of tight spots and emerged with it. That helped calm things down a bit as the game was played at 90 miles per hour. Curled one just wide with his left foot. Should have done better when one on one with Kjaer on the counter late on. An encouraging display to mark his first appearance of the season.
Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6
He looks like he’s forgotten what to do with the ball anytime he gets it. Kept running down blind alleys and losing the ball when we had to keep it. Redeemed himself with an excellent tackle on Theo Hernandez after tracking him all the way into our half. It was also his pass in behind that Tomori failed to clear to allow Sadio the chance to win it. Needs to sharpen up fast.
Milner – 6.5
Brought on to see the game out and the wily veteran did just that. Booted Diaz up in the air down our left when he tried to skip in behind. Kept the ball in the corner to wind down the clock and won a few free-kicks to relieve the pressure. Just what the manager would have wanted.
Chose to rotate and it almost backfired. His management of Origi is curious, no minutes at all season, not even a place on the bench, and then out of the blue, a start in such a key game. He’s gotten away with it and you can’t argue with the result because it’s three points on the board and Van Dijk rested completely for Palace on Saturday.
He resisted the urge to make halftime changes and kept his powder dry till Divock went down injured after the hour mark. The subs after that all made sense and helped eke out the victory.