Liverpool could be labelled ‘lucky’ to hold onto a draw against Midtjylland on Wednesday in a Group D encounter in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League.
The game started in ominous fashion, with Mohamed Salah capitalising on the opportunity to open the scoring in the first minute of the fixture in Denmark. However, it was Midtjylland who seized control of the proceedings thereafter and came close to scoring the equalizer, with Fabinho clearing the ball off the line with some last-ditch defending.
There were chances at both ends in the first half, with Caoimhin Kelleher called into action more often but Midtjylland went into half-time with momentum. The home side carried on with the momentum and tested Liverpool’s resolve, with the away side spending more time in their own half.
Evander almost earned the equalizer but his attempt rattled the crossbar and the brave follow-up over-the-head attempt flew wide. Midtjylland finally got their equalizer though, as a VAR intervention gave the home side a penalty after Caoimhin Kelleher was adjudged to have brought Anders Dreyer down inside the box and Alexander Scholz made no mistake in converting the chance.
The game proceeded to have chances at both ends once again, with neither team latching on to the openings. Midtjylland pressed on and would be frustrated at having lost the opportunity of a historic upset. Let us take a look at how the Liverpool players fared in Denmark.
Caoimhin Kelleher – 5
Was good in the first half, making good saves at his near post and doing well to retain Liverpool’s lead, although he was given more than a helping hand by his centre-back pairing. Lucky to not have been sent off for bringing down Dreyer in the box and was responsible for conceding the equalizer as a result.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5.5
Poor display from the superstar as he spent most of his time defending rather than being a part of Liverpool’s attack, which could be chalked as one of the major reasons the Reds found themselves on the back foot. Even in defence, he found himself overrun too often by the likes of Awer Mabil. Far from the runout Jurgen Klopp would have expected to give his star right-back.
Rhys Williams – 8
Commanding at the back, Rhys Williams continues to grow in stature. Won 9 aerial duels, the most in the match, and had 9 clearances to his name, the highest among any player on the pitch. Bossed the pitch and was one of the reasons Liverpool did not concede more than one goal on Wednesday.
Fabinho – 8
The clearance on the line was the icing on the cake as Fabinho made sure Liverpool put in an impressive defensive display. Continues to prove himself time and again as a key player for Liverpool.
Kostas Tsimikas – 6.5
Was overrun out wide by the Midtjylland stars but still put in a real shift on both ends of the pitch. Could be a real competitor to Andrew Robertson for the left-back slot if he continues to play like this.
Naby Keita – 6.5
Had a wonderful opportunity in the box in the second half but shot it straight at the opposition keeper, Jesper Hansen. Overall, a good game.
Leighton Clarkson – 6
Leighton Clarkson very impressive tonight, passing range was excellent at times, covered others who should be stepping up to the plate in midfield (although the excel sheets will be out tomorrow from some) another talent showing what he’s about and oozed confidence 👏🏻⚽️ pic.twitter.com/IfYmr9gzzT
— Gar⚽️Breen (@GarBreeninhoLfc) December 9, 2020
Making his senior debut for Liverpool, Clarkson never really got the chance to strut his stuff owing mostly to Midtjylland overrunning the Liverpool defence. Still would have been ecstatic to take his senior bow and would hope this is just the beginning of things to come for him at Liverpool.
Takumi Minamino – 6
Another average performance from the Japanese international, who has never really got going since his move to Liverpool. Didn’t find it easy to nick together passes while being pressured by Midtylland stars. Needs to start stepping up.
Mohamed Salah – 6.5
Mo Salah scores his 22nd Champions League goal for Liverpool.
He passes Steven Gerrard to become the club’s all-time leading goalscorer in the competition 💯 pic.twitter.com/lmtOqD8rw3
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 9, 2020
Somehow won the scrap and the ball went into the goal in the first minute when it could have turned out multiple ways. Despite the early goal, Salah didn’t do much with the chances that fell his way and was largely wasteful. Was also blocked and closed down relatively quickly by Midtjylland, cramping him for room.
Divock Origi – 5
If Salah was wasteful, Origi was one step ahead. The Belgian couldn’t find key passes, with teammates through on goal and just didn’t seem to be in the best of touch as far as his finishing is concerned. Origi seems to be lacking in match fitness and confidence, both of which require more game time. However, it is hard to see him get much if he doesn’t grab his chances.
Diogo Jota – 6
Tried to make the most of it but mostly seemed to be snatching at opportunities. Still looks like the best Liverpool attacker right now.
Billy Koumetio – 7
A special night for Billy the Kid 🙌
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 9, 2020
Came on for Fabinho and picked up where the Brazilian left off really. Made 3 interceptions, the highest in the game and 7 clearances, the second-highest after fellow youngster Rhys Williams, despite playing just half-a game. What a European debut for Koumetio, who really stamped his authority at the back.
Jordan Henderson – 6
Did a decent job since coming on for Naby Keita. Would have expected to start but rest here means he is likely to start during the weekend.
Andrew Robertson – 6
Spent most of his time defending after coming on for Tsimikas. Robertson lost the battle with the summer arrival for the left-back slot on Wednesday and if Tsimikas continues to impress, Roberton’s position might come under threat.
Roberto Firmino – 5
Did nothing of note, really but would have loved to have some minutes under his belt. Really out of form.
Sadio Mane – N/A
Mostly brought on to seek a winner, if possible. But, Mane couldn’t get an opportunity to influence proceedings.