Liverpool were made to work hard for all three points as they narrowly beat Genk 2-1 in a UEFA Champions League Group E clash on Tuesday.
In a strong first half, a much-changed Liverpool side took an early lead, as Georginio Wijnaldum finished from close range after Genk captain Sebastian Dewaest failed to clear James Milner’s cross. But, as half-time approached, the visitors equalised through Mbwana Samatta, who headed in from Bryan Heynen’s corner.
Liverpool, though, had their lead back just eight minutes post the interval when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain superbly struck on the turn. But, the Reds had Alisson to thank for the win, as after struggling to add to their advantage, it was the Brazilian who kept their slim lead intact. With the result, Jurgen Klopp’s men moved up to the top of Group E and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule on the players.
Alisson Becker: 7/10
As is the case in most games, Alisson barely had anything to do until the latter stages of the match. But, if not for the Brazilian, Liverpool might just have ended up having to share the spoils with Genk. Will have been left frustrated to be denied another clean sheet in the wake of comments about conceding sloppy goals.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 9/10
With Andrew Robertson not starting, Alexander-Arnold needed to take on more responsibility going forward. The numbers make for a pleasant reading, as the Englishman completed 9 long balls and had 161 touches, as Liverpool dominated possession. On another day, he could have made good on one of his crosses as well, if not for some poor finishing by teammates.
But, that was not all, as Alexander-Arnold was immensely impressive at the back as well, making 6 recoveries, 3 interceptions and completing 3 tackles. A superb all round performance by Alexander-Arnold, who has taken his game up a notch lately.
Joe Gomez: 6/10
Handed a rare start to give Dejan Lovren some rest ahead of the game against Manchester City, this was another opportunity for Gomez to impress Klopp. But, the Englishman did not quite grab his chance well, struggling to impose himself on the opposition striker. Still seems to be lacking sharpness, but does look better with each passing game.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
One of the better performances this season by van Dijk, who was a rock at the back against Genk. And, he could not have timed such a display better, with the Manchester City game looming. Looked to build play from the back quickly and completed 11 long balls. Dominant in the air, van Dijk won 6 aerial duels and also cleared the ball 6 times. Colossal.
James Milner: 6/10
Four years to the day when Liverpool won their first European game under Jurgen Klopp, Milner was the only constant who started both games. But, it was a game of two ends for the Liverpool skipper, who struggled at the back but was a strong outlet in the final third. Created the most chances (5) on the night and played a role in the opener.
Naby Keita: 7/10
After a poor showing against Arsenal last week, Keita went a long way in redeeming himself on Wednesday. Kept things ticking in the middle of the park and initiated the move that led to Wijnaldum’s goal, linking up with Milner in the build-up. Nearly grabbed one for himself, but Genk goalkeeper Gaetan Coucke made a solid stop to deny him. A step in the right direction.
In a season wherein Fabinho has set some big standards for himself, this was a rather average outing, keeping those standards as the benchmark. Started off in wasteful fashion, giving the ball away a few times. Off the ball, however, the Brazilian was solid, cutting off the Genk attack and covering up for some of his teammates.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7/10
A big performance by Wijnaldum, who has not been as consistent as he was last season. Grabbed the early goal to set the tone for a professional performance, the Dutchman now has scored each of his last three home goals in the Champions League. Linked up well with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita, as Liverpool piled the pressure on Genk.
Mohamed Salah: 6/10
With Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane rested, Salah had a lot of the responsibility on him to make the difference in the final third. But, it was an off day for the Egyptian in front of goal, inexplicably missing some straightforward chances, including when he failed to convert an Alexander-Arnold cross.
But, he compensated with a superb assist for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal, holding the ball brilliantly before passing the ball on to the Englishman. Needs to find his swagger, however, particularly with the Premier League champions up next for Liverpool.
Divock Origi: 5/10
Up against his former club, the ex-Genk man seemed to be missing a step and just could not find a way into the game. A horrible miss in the first half stood out and was symptomatic of his struggles on the day. Replaced by Firmino late on.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 8/10
It was just two weeks ago that Oxlade-Chamberlain had produced a match-winning performance against Genk. And, the English international, starting this game in a more advanced position, made the difference again on Wednesday.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has now scored in each of his last three starts for Liverpool:
⚽⚽ vs. Genk
⚽ vs. Arsenal
⚽ vs. Genk
Picking up some serious form. pic.twitter.com/eRt3GOJ3h2
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 5, 2019
Looked to switch things up by spraying long balls. But, the standout moment was his turn for the goal as he took the opposition defender out of the game with one touch before caressing the ball into the back of the net. Continues to grow in stature and it won’t be long before he becomes a regular across competitions.
Andrew Robertson: N/A
On for Keita with 15 minutes left, Robertson released Milner into midfield and helped see the game out.
Sadio Mane: N/A
Much like Robertson, Mane, who replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain, was a pair of fresh legs for the final quarter of an hour.
Roberto Firmino: N/A
A late substitution as the minutes ticked by.