A defensive masterclass from Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak helped Liverpool book their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Liverpool secured their place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League with yet another 2-0 win over RB Leipzig. The victory at the Puskas Arena helped them seal a comfortable 4-0 aggregate triumph over the Bundesliga side, who were far from their best on Wednesday.
It was a nervy start to the game for RB Leipzig, who were finding it difficult to dominate possession while their forward passing was dismal, to say the least. Liverpool, as a result, applied some early pressure and even created two clear-cut scoring opportunities.
However, they failed to take full use of their chances, often being denied by Peter Gulacsi, as Leipzig eventually started to get a firmer grip pn the game. Although the Bundesliga giants could not really trouble Alisson in goal, they looked far more comfortable on the ball after the 25-minute mark, though another miss from Liverpool deep in the first half was a real let-off for Julian Nagelsmann’s men.
Leipzig undoubtedly dominated the game in the second half, looking for the elusive opener that would have sparked a comeback. They came close too, with substitute Alexander Sorloth hitting the crossbar. However, their hopes were completely shattered after Mohamed Salah eventually found the back of the net for Liverpool, producing a precise finish in the 70th minute.
Moments later, the Reds doubled their lead through Sadio Mane, effectively killing the tie. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at how these two teams performed in this Champions League Round of 16 tie in Budapest.
Despite Leipzig’s pressure in the second half, Alisson was barely troubled in between the sticks. It was indeed an easy clean sheet for the Brazilian, who will brace himself for a tougher challenge in the next round.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7.5/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s offensive work was suppressed by the dynamic presence of Christopher Nkunku on the flanks. However, the youngster responded to it brilliantly, mostly staying deep and helping out the two centre-backs.
Nat Phillips: 9/10
Nat Phillips was one of the best performers for Liverpool in this game. The young centre-back pressed the Leipzig forward admirably, denying them any space and time on the ball. Quite dominant in the air as well.
Nat Phillips tonight. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/nfrS0obHsS
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) March 10, 2021
Ozan Kabak: 8/10
Ozan Kabak complemented Phillips at the heart of the Liverpool backline. He made a host of crucial interceptions while also shining in one-on-one duels, frustrating the Leipzig attackers throughout the game.
Andrew Robertson: 7.5/10
Andrew Robertson had a relatively easier game on the left flank as Tyler Adams barely provided any services going forward. Very useful in claiming loose balls, as always.
Thiago Alcantara: 8/10
Thiago Alcantara bossed the game in the middle of the park. He was super composed in possession, evading the Leipzig press at ease. It ultimately offered Liverpool the ability to take their time on the counter. A masterful display from the ex-Bayern Munich star.
Thiago looked like a different player with Fabinho alongside him in midfield tonight. Made more tackles than any other #LFC player in his time on the pitch (4), eight recoveries, and created one big chance. Jurgen Klopp will be wondering why he didn't try this earlier!
— David Lynch (@dmlynch) March 10, 2021
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to field Fabinho in central midfield turned out to be a masterstroke as the Brazilian offered composure in possession. His ability to read the game also made it difficult for the Leipzig midfielders to dominate the proceedings.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7.5/10
Georginio Wijnaldum was a vital cog in Liverpool’s second line of press. His urgency to win back possession hassled the Leipzig ball-carriers, making it difficult for the Bundesliga giants to get a firm grip on the proceedings.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
Sadio Mane may have hoped for more precision in the final third, especially in the first half. However, his hard work paid off in the second half when he netted Liverpool’s second of the evening.
Mohamed Salah: 6.5/10
Mohamed Salah was extremely wasteful for Liverpool, missing at least three golden opportunities to kill this tie. In the end, it was him who secured Liverpool’s victory with a late second half strike.
25 – Mohamed Salah has scored more goals than any other Premier League player in all competitions this season (25). King. pic.twitter.com/LgAlLrLkB9
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 10, 2021
Diogo Jota: 6.5/10
Diogo Jota looked wasteful in front of goal for the most part of the game. He was quite involved in the game, though, and provided a smart assist for the Salah goal.
Naby Keita: 6.5/10
Naby Keita replaced Thiago for the final 20 minutes of the game. He offered more dynamism on the ball, further dominating the opposition throughout the final phase.
Divock Origi: 6.5/10
Added more freshness in the Liverpool attack, replacing Jota in the 71st minute. Provided an excellent cross to feed Mane for the second goal.
James Milner: N/A
A late replacement for Wijnaldum. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Konstantinos Tsimikas: N/A
A late replacement for Robertson. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: N/A
A late replacement for Mane. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Peter Gulacsi: 7.5/10
It was an unfortunate game for Peter Gulacsi, who made a host of saves in the first half to keep his team in the contest. He was disappointed by the defensive support around him, especially in the final 15 minutes.
Nordi Mukiele: 6.5/10
Nordi Mukiele avoided making any defensive errors, but his lack of accountability in marking players exposed the Leipzig backline on many occasions. Needs to improve.
Dayot Upamecano: 8/10
Dayot Upamecano was one of the better performers for RB Leipzig. He was a rock at the back for the visitors, while his driving runs into the opposition half was quite impressive as well. The Frenchman was ultimately left disappointed by a blunt offensive unit.
EPL fans pounced on Upamecano after an average performance against Liverpool in the 1st leg. But none will praise him when he is playing amazing against the same team. Proof that BL agenda blinds people.
— Bayernology (@Bayernology1) March 10, 2021
Lukas Klostermann: 6/10
Lukas Klostermann looked uncomfortable throughout the course of the game in dealing with the threat of Salah. His lack of dynamism made it difficult for him to keep the Egyptian quiet.
Tyler Adams: 5/10
Tyler Adams was a vital cog in the Leipzig press, but that was the extent of his contributions this evening. The American international was ineffective going forward and should not have started ahead of Amadou Haidara.
Kevin Kampl: 5/10
Kevin Kampl was hurried and hassled by the opposing midfielders. As a result, he found it difficult to dictate the play for RB Leipzig and was effectively taken off at half-time.
Marcel Sabitzer: 6/10
Marcel Sabitzer had a sloppy game in the middle of the park for Leipzig. His forward passes were miscalculated and there was an overall lack of sharpness in his play.
Christopher Nkunku: 6.5/10
Christopher Nkunku offered all the intensity and drive going forward for Leipzig on the left flank. He even caused a stir in the Liverpool backline for large parts of the game but was left disappointed by the offensive support around him.
Maybe Liverpool should just stop playing at Anfield
Also very surprised at how poor Leipzig were – nothing from Olmo, Nkunku or Forsberg, they clearly missed the explosiveness of Angeliño and they clearly need to invest in a better striker than Chan or Sorlorth.
— Sam (@SamJGollings) March 10, 2021
Emil Forsberg: 6/10
Emil Forsberg had a difficult game in the Leipzig attack, barely having any time and space on the ball. He was subbed off around the hour-mark by Nagelsmann.
Dani Olmo: 6.5/10
Dani Olmo was quite useful in certain attacking forays for RB Leipzig. His technical prowess and ability to act in between the lines made him a threat for Liverpool. Was not enough to make a difference, though.
Yussuf Poulsen: 6/10
Offered the physical presence in the final third for RB Leipzig. It was not enough to make any real difference, though, as the forward was eventually subbed off around the hour mark.
Alexander Sorloth: 6.5/10
Alexander Sorloth replaced Kampl at half-time to offer more physicality in the final third. He came closest towards finding the goal for Leipzig, with his header hitting the crossbar.
Justin Kluivert: 7/10
Justin Kluivert offered a spark in the Leipzig attack that was missing throughout the game. His effect eventually waned as soon as Liverpool found the opener.
Hwang Hee-chan: 6.5/10
Hwang Hee-chan failed to make the desired after coming on for Poulsen around the hour mark. Did provide a good cross to Sorloth though.
Amadou Haidara: 6/10
Replaced Olmo to add more urgency in midfield. May have started the game ahead of Adams on the right flank.