Liverpool 1-0 Ajax – Young reds ensure LFC win Champions League group

Champions League Group Stage Game 5
Tuesday 01 December 2020 - 8:00 pm
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42' Schuurs
55' Blind
⚽️ Jones58'
Jota off, Firmino on ↔️68'
69'↔️ Álvarez off, Labyad on
81'↔️ Neres off, Traoré on
86'↔️ Blind off, Martínez on
86'↔️ Mazraoui off, Huntelaar on
Salah off, Williams on ↔️90'
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After the false start against Atalanta last week, Liverpool were much improved this week and beat Ajax 1-0 to win Group D.

It means the Premier League champions will go into the last 16 as one of the top 8 seeds and renders next weeks trip to face Midtjylland a dead rubber.

Goalkeeper Alisson was left out as a precaution after a muscle tightness - Klopp turning to Caoimhin Kelleher to make his first European appearance.  Neco Williams, taken off at half time at the weekend, was also restored to the team with Joel Matip partnering Fabinho in the middle.

Curtis Jones, Jordan Henderson returned to the starting eleven whilst Mane returned to the line up replacing Fabinho.

Liverpool started on the front foot and it was 19 year old Curtis Jones who had two great chances in the first five minutes - his second effort a rasping curler that hit the post.

As it happened: LFC 1-0 Ajax

Ajax have been in a rich vein of form of late and were desperate to get a result that could help them move closer to qualification out of the group.  And so they provided their own threats in an end to end first half.

Davy Klaasen was a constant threat, creating space for himself in the area, but Kelleher was equal to him and produced a couple of fine saves in front of the Kop.

The second half continued with a desire for both teams to get that first goal - there was nobody here for a solitary point.  The excellent Perr Shuurs was keeping Sadio Mane quiet but that allowed Jota space to bring many of Liverpool's counter attacks forward - joined by Salah and the young Jones.

The reds eventually got the breakthrough when Neco Williams sent in a cross deep to the back post.  The otherwise solid Andre Onana got his timing horribly wrong in the Dutch goal and Curtis Jones was at the back post for the simplest of tap-ins to record his first UEFA Champions League goal.

Ajax upped the ante as they made a succession of attacking substitutions until near the end they had 4 strikers on the field.

In one of the last attacks of the game, Klass-Jan Huntelaar rose highest to send a powerful header toward goal but Kelleher reacted brilliantly to deny what should have been theequaliser.

It was fitting that at the full time whistle, Klopp ran over to his stand-in keeper who he selected ahead of Adrian due to 'footballing ability.'  Neco Williams' and Curtis Jones' performances however will have been equally good on his eyes.  The Liverpool manager in his post match interviews highlighting how he can finally have something to smile about after a tough period since the international break.

There were concerns about an ankle knock that Andy Robertson sustained in the first half, but he played through the discomfort and the reds now have the luxury of what will be a rest game for many of the first team next midweek.

Wolves up next - and the return of at least some fans to Anfield.

Liverpool will be in the next stage of the Champions League in February 2021.

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