An Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain double, along with goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah fired Liverpool to a 4-1 win over Genk in the Champions League.
Liverpool were off the blocks quickly at the Luminus Arena as just two minutes into the game, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring with a driven effort from distance. Genk thought they had equalised in the 27th minute, but Mbwana Samatta’s header was ruled out by the VAR for offside in the buildup.
Oxlade-Chamberlain doubled his tally on the night in the 57th minute with a sublime strike, before Sadio Mane made it 3-0 with a delightful chipped effort twenty minutes later. Mohamed Salah added a fourth in the 87th minute, before Stephen Odey scored a late consolation for Genk. Here’s how we rated the performances of Jurgen Klopp’s stars on the night in Belgium.
Alisson Becker: 7/10
Continuing in goal after making his return from injury last weekend, Alisson made a great save to deny Paul Ounachu in the first period. Exuded calmness and confidence throughout and showed quick thinking and sharpness with his distribution. Was visibly disappointed to have lost his clean sheet to the late goal.
James Milner: 7/10
Stepping in at right-back due to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s illness, the veteran Englishman once again showed his versatility. Bombed up and down the flank with great energy and enthusiasm, but there were some nervy moments defensively, not least with Genk’s disallowed goal. Shifted to left-back in the second half and continued in the same vein.
Dejan Lovren: 5/10
— Let’s talk about Six, Baby (@_Dubani) October 23, 2019
Handed a start in place of the injured Joel Matip, Lovren started shakily as he was beaten for pace at times and his positioning was iffy – one such occasion leading to Ounachu’s chance. Improved with time though, until he was caught out on the right side leading to the hosts’ consolation goal late on.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
The ever-present figure in Liverpool’s backline, van Dijk showed great burst of pace to thwart Genk in the early exchanges, while his battle with Samatta made for a good viewing. Distributed well from the deep areas as he constantly tried to put his team on the front foot.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
A constant outlet down the left side with his purposeful forward forays, some of Robertson’s link-up play with Mane was a delight to watch, while he also had a drilled effort saved in the first half. However, the Scotsman’s aggressive approach did leave him vulnerable at the back, with Genk creating quite a few opportunities from his side. Given a breather after the hour-mark.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 8/10
Handed a start in place of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, it took just two minutes for Oxlade-Chamberlain to make an impact on his first Champions League start since April 2018, as he found the net with a neat finish from 20 yards out.
The Englishman was a bit on and off after that, although he continued to take up good positions before making it 2-0 with a spectacular outside-of-the-boot finish. Brings so much more to the table than Henderson, who has struggled for form of late. This performance will have done his confidence a world of good.
Celebrating his 26th birthday, the Liverpool midfield enforcer went about his job without any fuss, despite having to pick up extra workload due to the lack of support from his fellow midfielders. Strong in his challenges, clever in his distribution, Fabinho won a large share of his duels in the middle, ensuring that Liverpool came out an top.
Naby Keita: 7/10
Given a starting berth by Klopp, the Guinean made full use of it, putting himself into the reckoning for the Tottenham game at the weekend. Offered great dynamism in the centre of the park, while he was sharp in his link-up play with the likes of Robertson and Mane throughout. There were a few misplaced passes here and there, but it was a purposeful display from Keita.
Mohamed Salah: 7/10
Back into the side after missing the Manchester United clash with injury, the Egyptian did not start all too well and took his time to get up to speed on the night. Improved a great deal after a quiet first half and ended up making vital contributions to the win, setting Mane up for the third goal before finding the net himself for Liverpool’s fourth.
Roberto Firmino: 8/10
After an off-colour display at the weekend, Firmino was back to his best on Wednesday night, with his exceptional link-up play on full display. Created an opportunity for Mane with an incredible Rabona pass in the first half and got the assist for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s second, while being involved in the lead-up to Liverpool’s third as well. A display full of intelligence, creativity and industry from the Brazilian.
Sadio Mane: 7.5/10
Reinstated to his favoured left flank, Mane wasn’t at his dangerous best against Genk, but asked quite a few questions of the hosts’ backline with his pace and link-up with Robertson down the left-hand side. Scored the third for Liverpool with a brilliant chip, before assisting Salah for the fourth.
Joe Gomez: 6/10
Replaced Robertson in the 63rd minute and slotted in at right-back, with Milner moving to the left. Solid.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 74th minute. Helped Liverpool see off the game without any hiccups.
Divock Origi: N/A
Got ten minutes against his boyhood club after replacing Firmino.