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Homeengland newsLiverpool 2-1 Ajax: Joel Matip header seals Champions League win at Anfield

Liverpool 2-1 Ajax: Joel Matip header seals Champions League win at Anfield

Mohammed Salah has now scored 34 goals for Liverpool in the Champions League

Joel Matip’s late header against Ajax at Anfield gave Liverpool their first Champions League win this season.

Boss Jurgen Klopp demanded a reaction to the “horror show” of the 4-1 defeat at Napoli in their group opener and this was certainly a vast improvement.

Liverpool created plenty of openings and deservedly went ahead when Mohamed Salah swept home Diogo Jota’s pass.

Mohammed Kudus’ searing shot went in off the underside of the bar to level but Matip pounced in the 89th minute.

Daley Blind missed a great chance to put Ajax ahead late on before Matip – whose previous Champions League goal was nine years ago – rose to head the winner, which was confirmed by goal-line technology.

Liverpool’s persistence pays off

Liverpool needed to respond to the debacle of Napoli and while they were nowhere near their best this was all about getting the victory that would make Champions League Group A look more positive for Klopp’s side.

It looked for a long time that Ajax’s composed manner allied to Liverpool’s lack of cutting edge might mean they would have one point from two games as they prepare to play Rangers home and away.

Instead, Matip’s winner ensured an important three points for last season’s beaten finalists and Klopp will hope it is the start of their recovery from the defeat in Italy he labelled the worst performance of his reign at Anfield.

Before the game, there was a short period of silence in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and while there were a handful of dissenting voices, they were hushed by the vast majority of those inside Anfield, who observed the tribute respectfully.

Once the action started, match-winner Matip and Thiago Alcantara were the keys to Liverpool’s improvement from last week at Napoli, the defender not only being strong at the back but bringing the ball out of defence in his typical adventurous manner.

The former Schalke defender’s decisive late contribution capped an outstanding display and he made Klopp’s defence look far more solid than in Italy last week.

Thiago’s ability to dictate the tempo has been sorely missed while he has been injured and his performance was a signpost to how important he will be as Liverpool try to recover from an indifferent start to their season.

Kudus shows his class

Ajax are surpassed by very few clubs in world football in terms of unearthing talent and the latest gem looks to be Ghana forward Kudus.

The 22-year-old forward was strongly linked with a move to Everton at the end of the transfer window but Ajax blocked the deal given they were about to lose Antony to Manchester United.

Ajax believe Kudus will make a key contribution to their season – and presumably that his value will therefore significantly increase.

They have been proved correct so far. He was outstanding in the 4-0 thrashing of Rangers in Ajax’s opening group game and his fierce finish at Anfield was a sign of the quality the powerful, skilful forward possesses.

He thumped in an emphatic equaliser off the underside of the bar after he was played in by Steven Berghuis and Steven Bergwijn.

Ajax will naturally be disappointed with the final outcome given they were minutes away from a valuable point, but they will justifiably feel they showed enough to believe they can progress from what is shaping up as a tight group.

Player of the match

MatipJoël Matip

Ajax

  1. Squad number22Player namePasveer

  2. Squad number20Player nameKudus

  3. Squad number3Player nameBassey

  4. Squad number15Player nameRensch

  5. Squad number4Player nameÁlvarez

  6. Squad number2Player nameTimber

  7. Squad number7Player nameBergwijn

  8. Squad number17Player nameBlind

  9. Squad number8Player nameTaylor

  10. Squad number23Player nameBerghuis

  11. Squad number10Player nameTadic

  12. Squad number9Player nameBrobbey

  13. Squad number19Player nameSánchez

  14. Squad number21Player nameGrillitsch

Line-ups

Liverpool

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Alisson
  • 66Alexander-Arnold
  • 32MatipBooked at 62mins
  • 4van Dijk
  • 21Tsimikas
  • 19ElliottSubstituted forFirminoat 66′minutes
  • 3Fabinho
  • 6Thiago AlcántaraSubstituted forBajceticat 90+4′minutes
  • 11Salah
  • 20JotaSubstituted forNúñezat 66′minutes
  • 23DíazSubstituted forMilnerat 90+2′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Gomez
  • 7Milner
  • 9Firmino
  • 13Adrián
  • 27Núñez
  • 28Freitas Gouveia Carvalho
  • 29Arthur
  • 43Bajcetic
  • 47Phillips
  • 95Davies

Ajax

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 22Pasveer
  • 15RenschSubstituted forSánchezat 68′minutes
  • 2Timber
  • 3Bassey
  • 17Blind
  • 4ÁlvarezBooked at 59mins
  • 8TaylorSubstituted forGrillitschat 80′minutes
  • 10Tadic
  • 23BerghuisBooked at 90mins
  • 7Bergwijn
  • 20KudusSubstituted forBrobbeyat 86′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Stekelenburg
  • 6Klaassen
  • 9Brobbey
  • 11Ocampos
  • 13Kaplan
  • 16Gorter
  • 18Lucca
  • 19Sánchez
  • 21Grillitsch
  • 25Baas
  • 26Regeer
  • 29Magallán

Referee:
Artur Manuel Soares Dias

Attendance:
52,387

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