- Mignolet stops PK
- Alexander-Arnold scores free kick (VIDEO)
- Milner adds insurance
- Uth scores off bench
James Milner and Trent Alexander-Arnold gave Liverpool a leg up on Hoffenheim with a 2-1 win in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff round first leg at Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
Mark Uth scored for Hoffenheim, which will need at least two goals at Anfield on August 23 to advance to the group stage.
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Simon Mignolet stopped an Andrej Kramaric and made a handful of other impressive interventions in helped a Liverpool back line which again suffered through fits and starts.
Joel Matip intervened to divert a tempting Hoffenheim cross in the 6th minute, and the hosts’ dangerous attack had another chance when Dejan Lovren cleared a free kick off his hand that Mignolet rescued outside the six.
Lovren got a piece of Serge Gnabry after the former Arsenal man made a quick cut, and Kramaric stepped up to the spot. He was denied Hoffenheim’s first goal in Champions League history when his poor attempt was parried by Mignolet.
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Mohamed Salah bungled a chance to score on a 50-yard breakaway when he grounded a shot wide of the goal.
Only indecision and nerves in the final third kept Hoffenheim off the scoreboard in the first half hour, though Liverpool had moments where it appeared to have its footing in the match.
Sadio Mane‘s danger was evident, and the Senegalese forward won the Reds a free kick from closer than 25 yards. Trent Alexander-Arnold curled the ball over a non-leaping edge of the wall and slipped it inside the far post to make it 1-0 Reds against the run of play.
Sandro Wagner came close to equalizing in the 43rd minute when Gnabry’s blocked shot rebounded to the forward. Wagner’s shot knocked the post en route to a goal kick.
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Gnabry looked to have made it 1-1 in the 49th minute, but was rightly called offside after beating Mignolet low and inside the near post. It was not the only time Gnabry would threaten during the half, though he left after watching Salah miss another Liverpool chance in the 70th minute. The ensuing free kick saw a Lovren header collected by Oliver Baumann.
Milner gave the Reds a second away goal when his cross deflected off Havard Nordtveit‘s chest, chipping Baumann in the 74th minute.
Mignolet made an outstanding diving stop on Nadiem Amiri’s side-volley in the 83rd minute.
The clean sheet was ruined minutes later, as Uth collected a diagonal cross over Alexander-Arnold — who proved to be fallible — and laced a low shot across Mignolet and inside the far post. 2-1.
Marko Grujic gave away a free kick as the match entered four minutes of stoppage time. Justin Hoogna rose to head a great offering from Kerem Demirbay, but it fired over the crossbar.