Liverpool Continue Excellent Start to Season with Champions League Win

Liverpool Continue Excellent Start to Season with Champions League Win

Liverpool and Paris Saint-German have opened up their 2018-2019 Champions League accounts with a dramatic 3-2 result at Anfield that went in favor of the English side. Liverpool started the game off strong and was not intimidated by the big-spending French club. They fed off the home crowd and kept the pressure on PSG in the final third and did so by winning all the 50/50 balls early on. PSG had the advantage in possession through the first half, but it was mainly in their part of the pitch while the Reds used theirs to dominate in the final third.

In his first-ever Champions League start, Daniel Sturridge scored on a beautiful header via a perfect ball in from the reliable left-back Andrew Robertson, who has made a habit of delivering excellent crosses (ground and air) into the box since joining the Reds. But, Liverpool did not stop there, as they used the crowd’s energy to carry on, nearly scoring right after.

PSG almost scored off a cross immediately after, but Liverpool responded quickly by going on the attack and drawing a penalty that was slotted home perfectly in the bottom right corner by James Miler, aka “Captain Cool.” The French squad had a lot of half-chances throughout the first half, and probably should have scored, but finally did off a sweet left-footed strike from right-back Thomas Meunier when a ball was deflected in the box on a cross. But the first half overall belonged to the Reds, who dominated in the critical areas and didn’t let the French side impose their footprint on the match.

But the second half was a bit off an odd one, as Liverpool dominated possession, and most of it was easy because PSG did not pressure the Reds at all. However, Liverpool was not able to put the ball into the back of the net, even with possession and the half chances they created. The tempo of the contest was slower, with players from each sided trying to pace themselves. But Liverpool was clearly the better side.

However, that doesn’t mean much if you make silly mistakes, and the Reds were taught a lesson. Liverpool star Mo Salah, who looked awful all game (continuing a slow start to the young season), made a brutal mistake in the Liverpool half. With less than 10 minutes left in the game, he tried dumping the ball off to a teammate in the midfield but left it behind his intended target, and did not put anything behind the pass, which allowed it to be easily intercepted.

And when you make a careless mistake such as that against a team with a world-class attack, you’re asking for trouble, and that is what happened. Liverpool was the overall better team and deserved to be ahead, but PSG showed that you could not make any mistakes when you are facing a team full of elite game-changers as they. The air was taken out of an electric atmosphere, as everyone was stunned. Everyone but the away crowd.

Then substitute Roberto Firmino, who usually starts but had to come off the bench after leaving Saturday’s game with an eye injury, created some magic at Anfield, and brought the electricity back with a sublime goal, which now makes him the second-most prolific Champions League scorer in the history of the club, behind only one, Steven Gerrard.

It was the second time in as many tries that PSG’s manager, Thomas Tuchel, lost by a goal at Anfield because of a stoppage-time score in the 91st minute, with the first time coming during his time at Borussia Dortmund back in 2016.

It was a deserved victory for the Anfield over an elite European side that is one of the favorites to win the entire Champions League competition. Liverpool led in possession, shots, shots on target, and had a monumental advantage of 13-1 on corners. They won most of the 50-50 balls and had more heart in the game, consistently pressuring the PSG defense.

The midfield, Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner in particular, were excellent. Milner has quietly been a revelation this season, and made timely tackle after timely tackle, and made life hard for Neymar while keeping possession and making key passes. Left-back Andy Robertson was reliable once again, keeping wunderkind Kylian Mbappe quiet for most of the game. Mbappe’s second-half equalizer was not his fault. Trent Alexander-Arnold kept Neymar Jr. in his pocket, and made Neymar’s most memorable moments from the game the few times people realized he was being lazy on defense or losing his ankles to Sadio Mane.

It was an overall great team victory for a Liverpool team that are building something special. Champions League nights at Anfield are some of the best atmospheres in the sport, and Tuesday night was no different. The Reds have now won six of their six opening games and have honestly yet to hit their stride. Something is up with Salah, and Sadio Mane needs to pass the ball more. But other than that, times are great.

Featured Image via Flickr/newsmag

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