Liverpool continues to scrap out wins when it isn’t at its high-flying peak.
The Reds were always in control of their 2-0 defeat of Porto on Tuesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal, despite not really putting their foot down on the gas.
[ MORE: Match recap ]
Yes, there was again luck involved — a few VAR decisions went against Porto and Naby Keita‘s opener was deflected — but largely this was down to a superior team defeating an inferior opponent at home with relative comfort.
Jurgen Klopp wasn’t happy with the amount of set pieces Liverpool conceded, especially given Porto’s aptitude in that area, but overall knows his team ground out a quality win. From the BBC:
“We lost a little bit of direction in the second half, but there’s nothing to criticize, 2-0 is a very, very good result,” Klopp said. “We knew we had to play the second game and we cannot decide the tie tonight, so now we have to go there and fight again.”
Reds captain Jordan Henderson also wasn’t pleased with the second frame, but knows his men got the job done.
“We wanted to come out in the second half and score one or two more but that wasn’t to be,” he said. “We didn’t create that much and it was a bit stop-start, but overall we have to be pleased to take 2-0 over there.”
The one player who tested Alisson Becker not once but three times was Moussa Marega, who will certainly become a name we hear about in the transfer mill. Virgil Van Dijk appreciated the challenge.
“He’s strong and tough to play against. Every striker I play against at the moment is pretty good but I’m enjoying these battles. You want to enjoy these games and now all the focus will be on Chelsea.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is walking it like he talks it, not that that’s anything new.
A few days after claiming superiority over LAFC superstar Carlos Vela, Ibrahimovic and his Galaxy trailed early in El Trafico via a Vela penalty.
[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]
Naturally, Zlatan took it upon himself to answer the bell with his 14th goal in 17 games.
Ibrahimovic chests a long ball onto his right foot, cooking Eduard Atuesta by pushing it into position for a tremendous lash into the LAFC goal.
And if you haven’t been following LAFC’s amazing season, Atuesta’s probably been the side’s best player after Vela, who now has 20 goals in 20 games.
A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.
Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.
Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.
Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.
[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]
Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.
Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.
It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.
Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.
Christian Eriksen may trade London for Madrid after all, but Marca claims it’ll be Real Madrid’s rivals who earn the services of Tottenham’s Danish playmaker.
Eriksen, 27, scored 10 goals with 17 assists for Spurs in all competitions last season, and was reportedly ready to spread his wings for Real Madrid.
[ MORE: Kean to Everton? ]
But pro-Real site Marca says Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Eriksen at the Bernabeu, and that Diego Simeone feels differently… should Atletico Madrid fail at landing his prime option.
That’s James Rodriguez, who remains property of Real and that’s a problem.
So Eriksen to Atleti, helping to replace Antoine Griezmann? It’s possible.
Just last November, the London club put a 250 million euro price tag on his head, but now appear keen to move him on. The next few days will likely reveal a lot about what’s to come.
So we may get an idea of whether this report has any guts to it by next week. There could be some sense to it, but Metro claims that Spurs are offering Eriksen an “enormous” contract to keep him in North London.
Enormous means a doubling of Eriksen’s wages, and the Dane is said to be happy in England. Might Spurs hold off the finest of La Liga and Serie A after all.
Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.
Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.
And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.
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The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club. He could join Michael Keane, if he’s keen.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).
The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.
Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.