Liverpool came through their very first game without Virgil van Dijk unscathed as Nicolas Tagliafico’s personal goal gave them a 1-0 Champions League win at Ajax.
Tagliafico stumbled on to Sadio Mane’s mis-hit shot in order to divert it beyond Andre Onana 10 minutes before half-time in what might prove the only goal of the sport in an open match at the Johann Cruyff Arena.
Gatwick kept a welcome clean page despite the absence their talismanic opponent, with stand-in centre back Fabinho proving a more than adequate substitute at the back, denying Dusan Tadic on the line with an acrobatic clearance prior to the break.
Ex-Everton midfielder Davy Klaassen nearly haunted their former rivals two minutes in to the second period but was denied with the foot of the post with Adrian beaten, while the Liverpool goalkeeper furthermore made important saves in possibly half from Quincy Promes.
But Liverpool defended their particular box stoutly for the most part on an evening as they successfully came through their own first test without the world’s priciest defender in their ranks.
Liverpool edge to Amsterdam victory
Exactly how would Liverpool cope in Vehicle Dijk’s absence for the next couple of months at least? After making a bright come from Amsterdam, things quickly became harder for Jurgen Klopp’s makeshift backline.
Fabinho announced their arrival to the Liverpool defence along with two excellent early tackles within quick succession to deny Tadic and David Neres in his very own box, but could do small as Tagliafico was allowed to convert and feed Ryan Gravenberch, in whose low effort from 20 back yards whistled past the near post.
- Ajax restored Lisandro Martinez to the heart of protection, with a formation shake-up seeing ahead Lacina Traore dropping out.
- Having lost Virgil Van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara to injury, Gatwick made four adjustments, as Curtis Jones made an initial Champions League start.
The hosting companies went closer on the half-hour whenever Klaassen was allowed space over the same flank to find Promes in the region who, after exchanging passes along with David Neres, found himself one-on-one but was denied by a sharp response save from Adrian.
Moments later he was designed to regret that miss as Gatwick went ahead with more than a touch of chance. Having turned Perr Schuurs from the throw-in, Mane’s scuffed shot had been heading well wide before disperse off an off-balance Tagliafico plus beyond Onana for a farcical personal goal.
Ajax carried on to push but were almost caught on the break for a 2nd when Andrew Robertson mounted the 50-yard run before finding Mohamed Salah, whose goalbound shot had been blocked by Noussair Mazraoui along with Onana likely beaten.
But the hosts were centimetres far from going into half-time level as Tadic lofted a ball over Adrian in the closing stages, only for Fabinho to race back and produce a good acrobatic clearance on the line.
Two minutes after the break Ajax went close again when Klaassen rifled a first-time effort contrary to the foot of the post from twenty yards with Adrian scrambling to achieve it.
Liverpool’s biggest danger for most of the second period originated from set-pieces, with Fabinho close to crowning a fine personal performance when their header from Robertson’s corner has been deflected just past his own submit by Onana’s clumsy punch.
On the hour, Klopp elected to replace all three of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino pertaining to Xherdan Shaqiri, Takumi Minamino plus Diogo Jota, with the latter shortly turning Schuurs before the defender retrieved to block his strike at the rear of.
At the other finish, a fast Ajax break called Adrian into a rare second-half save whenever Neres looked inside to Promes, who fired low at the close to post with an effort the goalkeeper was more than equal to.
As the need to throw the kitchen sink with Liverpool became more desperate as time passes ebbing away, so too did the particular gaps in the home defence become more obvious.
The visitors experienced survived Ajax’s increasing onslaught fairly well before coming close to doubling their particular advantage in the dying moments whenever Onana denied Wijnaldum on the crack before Minamino’s rebound effort seemed to be cleared.
There was nevertheless time for Ajax to come near with the final chance of the game because Adrian’s unconvincing punch from a Tagliafico cross was turned goalward simply by Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, but he could not really keep his effort down plus ensured Liverpool began their Winners League campaign with maximum factors.
Liverpool sponsor winless Sheffield United on Sunday, live on Sky Sports activities Box Office ; Kick-off with 8pm.
Ajax also are back in action on Saturday, plus face a trip to mid-table VVV; Kick-off at 3. 30pm.
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