Liverpool’s Joel Matip rises to beat Ajax and eases Anfield’s anxiety | Champions League

Jurgen Klopp couldn’t stand the look. Another night of Champions League Torment called for Liverpool when Joel Matip fired a towering header in the 89th minute behind Ajax goalkeeper Remko Psfer only to send Dusan Tadic off the line. Or from behind the line, as confirmed by a signal in the judgment watch. Klopp was facing away from the field when the referee pointed to the center circle, guiding Liverpool’s run in a completely different direction.

It was late, pesky and Liverpool There is still plenty of room for improvement, but this was a precious victory after Napoli went down and with their season already at a crucial stage. Mohamed Salah opened the scoring before Kudus scored the superb equalizer for Ajax. Liverpool began to regret many missed opportunities when Matip finally converted a corner kick for Kostas Tsimikas.

Several days after hitting his players with “the ultimate truth”, Klopp made four changes to the team responsible for what he described as the worst performance of his tenure with Liverpool. In Naples last week. One was imposed, with Costas Tsimikas replacing the injured Andy Robertson, and three were a direct response to the disaster in Italy as Joe Gomez, James Milner and Roberto Firmino fell off the bench. Diogo Jota was picked ahead of summer signing Darwin Nunez as Klopp searched for a more compact pressurized unit to relaunch Liverpool’s Champions League campaign. The inclusion of Trent Alexander-Arnold made him the youngest player in Liverpool history to achieve 50 European appearances for the club, at 23 years and 341 days.

There was no Champions League anthem before kick-off, and the traditional sound of You Never Walk Alone was abandoned after just a few notes as UEFA and Liverpool marked the anniversary of the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II. Anfield was asked to observe a period of silence for the late king and, in general, was respectfully observed. One shout from Liverpool and two boos were immediately instructed to shut up from the others in the crowd while the majority paid their respects in silence.

Joel Matip towers over the Ajax defense to make the difference.
Joel Matip towers over the Ajax defense to make the difference. Photo: Visionhaus / Getty Images

Klopp calls on Liverpool to “reinvent” themselves Post-Napoli did not lead to a radically different approach, although the improvement was noticeable and immediate. Both Thiago Alcantara and recalled Jota’s fitness had an early impact while Matip’s defense helped break Ajax’s streaks and put the Dutch champions under constant pressure early on. It paid off when the hosts claimed an early lead that should have eased some of the anxiety inside Anfield.

Luis Diaz, one of the few to escape criticism in Naples, won a towering header from Alisson’s qualifier and led her to the Jota Road. two Ajax The defenders rushed towards the Liverpool striker but he easily repelled them before Salah fired a free kick into the penalty area. After seven Champions League games without a goal, his longest drought in the competition, Salah could not have wished for a better chance of ending the unwanted streak and overcoming the Pasphere with a convincing corner finish.

Every Liverpool player took part in the festivities and last week’s self-doubt seemed to be swept away when they bombed the Psphere goal for a second. Diaz took an excellent opportunity after Virgil van Dijk nodded his head from a Tsimikas free kick en route near the penalty spot. Jota tested the Ajax goalkeeper from a distance and then set Salah again after Alisson found him in space on the left. And the scorer emerged on a large scale in the near post.

Liverpool’s off-the-ball rate of action was improved as well, and Klopp had approval when Tsimikas, Diaz and Thiago successfully pressed Ajax, forcing the ball off Dusan Tadic in an attack back to Pacefer in goal. But while Liverpool have been enjoying their most dominant streak, they’ve been getting a lot of attention thanks to Ajax’s speed and intelligence in a rare attack forward.

A problem arose from the moment right-back, Devin Rench, overcame Liverpool’s pressure with a precise pass through Diaz and Tsimikas. Edson Alvarez found Daley Blind embracing the other side, sending former Manchester United defender Stephen Berguis into the space vacated by Alexander-Arnold. Burgess sent a cross between Matip’s legs towards Steven Bergwijn standing unnoticed inside the Liverpool penalty area. Muhammed Kudus, who has no control, got the ball first, ran away from Van Dijk and fired an unstoppable left-footed shot from the underside of Alisson’s crossbar. It was clear why Ajax refused to sell Kudus to Everton in the recent transfer window after Anthony’s loss to United.

Liverpool continued to create good openers, but whether from set pieces or open play, the clinical touch proved elusive. Both Van Dijk and Matip sent several captivating heads over the crossbar or directly at the Psphere while the Ajax goalkeeper saved well from Alexander-Arnold and Salah. The latter, after Fabinho Salah’s ball found a free kick inside the penalty area, rebounded to Harvey Elliott but could only hit the side netting from a difficult angle.

The visitors carried a clear threat on the counter and had to take the lead when Tadic selected Blind with a calculated cross pass to the back post. Blind had time and space to pick where he was only to put a header inches off the far post, causing coach Alfred Schroeder to kneel in grief.

Nunez had the perfect chance to win late when Salah hit the striker inside the area. The Uruguay international pulled his shot wide, but Matip saved Liverpool’s night.

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