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Liverpool beat Genk to go top of Group E (video)

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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.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

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.

Three things

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.

LIVE, UCL: Chelsea v. Ajax, Liverpool v. Genk

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Crunch time has arrived in the UEFA Champions League, with Matchweek 4 so important in deciding which teams will reach the last 16.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

There is an all-USMNT battle to look forward to as Christian Pulisic and Sergino Dest go head-to-head as Chelsea host Ajax in a pivotal clash at Stamford Bridge.

Premier League leaders and reigning European champs Liverpool host Genk as Jurgen Klopp‘s men aim to make it three-straight wins in the UCL. Elsewhere in Group E, Napoli host RB Salzburg as Jesse Marsch’s youngsters caused them an almighty shock last time out.

Elsewhere, in Group F Inter Milan travel to Borussia Dortmund in a monster clash at the Westfalenstadion. Dortmund need a win to hop above Inter in the standings, with Barcelona in pole position in the group.

Lyon host Benfica in Group G and Valencia head to Lille in Group H.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s late games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Liverpool v. Genk
Napoli v. Red Bull Salzburg

Group F
Borussia Dortmund v. Inter Milan

Group G
Lyon v. Benfica

Group H
Chelsea v. Ajax
Valencia v. Lille

Little trouble for Liverpool in blowout of Genk

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored twice as Liverpool outlasted a strong effort from their Belgian hosts in a 4-1 win over Genk in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Pulisic assists Chelsea winner ]

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah scored late goals to finish off the Belgians, though Stephen Odey scored an 88th minute goal after the Reds had rounded out their 4-star day.

Liverpool’s six points are one behind Napoli and three ahead of Red Bull Salzburg at the midway point of Group E play.

Three things

1. “New signing” shines: Remember when Jurgen Klopp loudly proclaimed that a healthy Oxlade-Chamberlain sufficed as a new summer signing? The playmaker was fantastic in just his third start of the season. In addition to two well-taken goals, “The Ox” completed 89 percent of his passes and was credited with 79 touches, two tackles, and two dribbles.

2. “Offensive” banner brings abrupt response: Liverpool striker Divock Origi began his youth career with Genk well before he became a Champions League winner, and a banner hung in the crowd caused both clubs to issue strong statements about its being “deeply offensive.” Liverpool said the banner, which depicted Origi’s face photoshopped on a naked body next to the UCL trophy, “perpetuated a racist stereotype.”

3. Reds defense falls asleep late:  It wasn’t a great evening for center back Dejan Lovren, who was stripped of the ball in a sleepy move on the touch line, but about six teammates could’ve done something as Genk toyed with the Reds in the box to get a late concession. Not a big deal, no, but a small on-field blemish on an otherwise wonderful afternoon.

Man of the Match: Oxlade-Chamberlain

The “Ox” put the Reds on top with a nice low drive through traffic, but the first half was not without its dodgy moments.

Case in point: Naby Keita tried a poor back pass that required timely help from Virgil Van Dijk to avoid an equalizer.

Indeed, Genk thought it had an equalizer before halftime, but VAR revealed a narrow offside in the build-up. Warning sign seen by the Reds?

Mane scored before setting up Salah for 4-0, the Egyptian doing a load of work to snub several defenders.

Liverpool, Genk condemn Origi banner as ‘racist stereotype’

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Liverpool has issued a strong statement condemning a racist banner hung by Genk fans prior to the Reds’ UEFA Champions League match in Belgium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Pulisic assists Chelsea winner ]

The banner showed the Photoshopped head of former Genk academy and current Liverpool striker Divock Origi on a naked body next to the Champions League trophy.

Our partners at Sky Sports say that Genk as a club has condemned the banner as “highly offensive” and vows to bring the offending parties to justice.

“Liverpool Football Club condemns the offensive banner displayed in our section of the ground, prior to kick off. To be clear, the image used perpetuated a racist stereotype. This is completely unacceptable.

“We acted swiftly to have the banner removed and we are now working with the local authorities and stadium team in Genk to identify those responsible. Any subsequent action will be taken in keeping with our sanctions process.”

The 24-year-old Origi left Genk’s academy for Lille’s academy in 2010.

USMNT-Italy match to be held in Belgium

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The United States men’s national team has a venue for its final match of 2018.

The Yanks will face Italy… in Belgium. U.S. Soccer announced that the USMNT and Gli Azzurri will meet at Luminus Arena, home of Genk.

[ MORE: Wijnaldum breaks ankles ]

That match is Nov. 20, five days after the Yanks face England at Wembley Stadium.

It’s just three days after Italy hosts Portugal in a must-win UEFA Nations League match. Italy is two points behind Portugal but has played one fewer match.

Italy beat Poland in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday, picking up its first win since a May triumph over Saudi Arabia.