Liverpool – Ajax: Liverpool’s kids were alright, as teenagers produced the lone goal and Caoimhin Kelleher stepped in for injured Alisson Becker and kept Ajax off the board in a 1-0 win Tuesday at Anfield to seal a seeded place in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.
Neco Williams set up Curtis Jones’ goal in the second half and three of Kelleher’s four saves came from shots inside the box as the Reds moved four points clear of Atalanta.
[ MORE: Champions League standings. box scores ]
Elsewhere, Atalanta drew Midtjylland in Berhamo. Ajax is one-point back of Atalanta ahead of a final day meeting, while Liverpool finishes with a visit to Midtjylland.
Liverpool – Ajax wasn’t a feast for the eyes but got the job done for Jurgen Klopp.
Three things we learned from Liverpool – Ajax
1. Positions flipped: For most of this one, desperate Ajax held 60 percent of possession at Anfield against usually-controlling Liverpool. The Reds were dangerous on the counter. If you would’ve bet on a goalkeeper error between Caiominh Kelleher and Andre Onana, it would’ve been on the former. But Onana came out for a Neco Williams cross and then failed to punch it, allowing Jones to pop home from an acute angle with the outside of his boot.
2. Caoimhin Kelleher deputizes in style: Alisson Becker was a late scratch for Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool suffered another injury, and the Reds boss opted for young Irish keeper Caiominh Kelleher between the sticks.
Kelleher was tested early enough, Noussair Mazraoui ripping a shot that the keeper flew to knock away from goal after the half-hour mark. Kelleher than denied him again with a low lunge in the second half, grateful to see the rebound lashed off the outside of the post.
3. Schuurs Thing: Transfer rumors from earlier Tuesday would’ve had Liverpool fans keeping a close eye on 21-year-old Ajax center back Pers Schuurs. He picked up a yellow card in the first half for a tactical takedown of Sadio Mane but stayed in his shoes and wasn’t at fault for Liverpool’s goal. His stat line finished with five clearances, two blocks, two tackles, an interception, and an error leading to a shot (SofaScore). Schuurs passed at 85 percent and completed five of 10 long balls.
Man of the Match: Neco Williams
A handful of players have a claim to this honor, but credit the 19-year-old Welsh right back for showing up in a big way days after Jurgen Klopp hauled him off at halftime against Brighton. Williams had three tackles and completed five-of-eight crosses on the night, including his assist to Jones. Kelleher was also very good, as was Ajax’s Mazraoui.