It wasn’t pretty and it was hardly dominant, but Liverpool took care of business and beat Genk 2-1 in the two sides’ UEFA Champions League clash at Anfield on Tuesday.
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After going 1-0 up through Georginio Wijnaldum in the 14th minute, Liverpool were hit back just before halftime and went into the intermission with plenty of questions to be answered. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put the Reds back ahead with a clever turn and finish in the 53rd minute, and Liverpool only grew stronger from there.
1. Finishing the game, not chances: The first-half display was one of Liverpool’s least convincing of the season thus far — not bad, per se, but certainly not the mark of future Premier League champions nor a side looking to repeat as European champions. The second half was a different story, though, as Jurgen Klopp‘s side was far more assertive and in control of the small moments which cost them plenty in the first half. Mohamed Salah might have scored once or twice on another day to make the final score far more comfortable. There were plenty of chances to go around, but the finishing touch was lacking on the day.
2. A rare mistake defending a set piece: At this point, it feels just short of an end-of-the-world disaster Liverpool to concede a goal from a corner kick, given how aerially dominant they have been since the start of last season. It’s a high defensive bar they’ve set for themselves — both from open play and on set pieces — so virtually no one expected Genk to draw level like this, just a few minutes before halftime.
3. On the other hand…: This makes eight straight games (all competitions) in which Liverpool have conceded a goal. The last time they went that long without a clean sheet, the year was 2014 and Brendan Rodgers was the manager. On the bright side, they have conceded just once in six of those eight games; the other two saw Red Bull Salzburg score three and an Arsenal B-team score give (against Liverpool’s backups). We’re not at What’s wrong with the Liverpool defense? yet, but it’s certainly something to remember and keep an eye on going forward.
Man of the match: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
With Napoli drawing Salzburg in Group E’s other game on Tuesday, Liverpool now sit top of the group with nine points from four games. Nothing has been decided yet, though, as Liverpool still host the Italians and visit the Austrians in the final two rounds of group play.