Liverpool’s intent to wrap up their Champions League group with a membership document 15 factors was evident the second Jürgen Klopp submitted his teamsheet. Greatest-laid plans can’t legislate for the injury nonetheless being inflicted on the sport by VAR, nevertheless.
Takumi Minamino had an 89th-minute winner – that will have delivered Liverpool their 15 factors – disallowed by VAR for an obvious handball by Sadio Mané. Not clear, not apparent, and positively not offside because the objective was initially dominated out for. Midtjylland additionally equalised from the penalty spot after VAR accurately dominated that Caoimhín Kelleher had fouled Anders Dreyer, however solely after the midfielder had been adjudged offside earlier than they related.
Klopp named a surprisingly robust facet – contemplating his common complaints in regards to the punishing fixture schedule and the useless rubber providing alternative to relaxation senior gamers – however it was vindicated inside a minute by Salah giving Liverpool the lead. The Egypt worldwide and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been extra in want of sport time than relaxation, their supervisor reasoned, having been sidelined not too long ago by Covid-19 and damage respectively.
Alexander-Arnold’s first begin for a month was enhanced by carrying the captain’s armband for the primary time in his exceptional Liverpool profession. Fabinho and Diogo Jota have been different acquainted faces within the beginning lineup though, at a mean of 24 years and 26 days, it was nonetheless the youngest that Liverpool have fielded in a Champions League sport.
The quickest objective within the membership’s Champions League historical past adopted after merely 55 seconds. Midtjylland midfielder Alexander Scholz inadvertently supplied the help with a wayward backpass supposed for his captain, central defender Erik Sviatchenko. He launched the ever-alert Salah by on objective as an alternative.
The Liverpool ahead by no means appeared to have the ball underneath management as he bore down on Jesper Hansen’s objective however, because the goalkeeper and defender Dion Cools closed in, he poked a shot that trickled by Hansen’s legs and over the road. It was Salah’s twenty second Champions League objective for Liverpool, making him the membership’s main goalscorer within the competitors on an evening of notable achievements.
One other was the Champions League debut of Leighton Clarkson, the 19-year-old from Clitheroe who Klopp described as one of many brightest skills within the academy earlier than kick-off. The midfielder, flanked by Naby Keïta and Minamino, seemed polished from the outset and was concerned when Jota virtually doubled the guests’ lead. Clarkson discovered Minamino in area on the best with a finely weighted cross, certainly one of many he performed on the night time. The Japan worldwide centred low for Jota to attach however Hansen saved nicely at shut vary.
The Midtjylland keeper denied Jota once more shortly earlier than the interval and produced a routine save from Keïta following good work by Alexander-Arnold. He ought to have been prolonged by Divock Origi too when Salah’s first-time cross launched the striker contained in the penalty space however, maybe unaware of how a lot time he had, the Belgium worldwide dragged an instinctive shot wastefully large. Not that Liverpool dominated the play or the possibilities. Removed from it.
Fabinho reprised his goal-line intervention away at Ajax with one other necessary clearance when Sory Kaba headed past Kelleher on the again put up. The Brazilian volleyed off the road with the keeper crushed. Kelleher saved at his close to put up when one other inviting cross from Cools discovered Awer Mabil unmarked within the space.
Klopp changed Fabinho at half-time with Billy Koumetio who, at 18 years and 25 days, turned the youngest participant to seem within the Champions League for Liverpool. The change left the guests with a younger, inexperienced central defence and the Danish champions instantly capitalised on the chance that introduced.
Evander hit the Liverpool crossbar from shut vary after Koumetio was unable to move clear in a crowded penalty space. Kaba headed large when unmarked on the again put up and VAR made its first intervention to award Midtjylland a contested penalty, contested as Dreyer was initially flagged offside when he latched on to a ball over the Liverpool defence earlier than being tripped by the onrushing Kelleher. French referee François Letexier was suggested to evaluate the contact – however not the offside – on the pitchside monitor and had no hesitation in overturning the unique resolution to level to the spot. Kelleher went the best means however was crushed by Scholz’s highly effective and exact spot-kick.
Scholz then thought he had given Midtjylland the lead from a decent angle however, after a prolonged VAR evaluate, the trouble was disallowed for offside. With 4 minutes remaining Kelleher pushed away a goalbound Sviatchenko header after the captain towered over Jota at a nook.
Evander might have gained it when the hosts broke in numbers following a mistake by Clarkson however was thwarted by an excellent problem by substitute Jordan Henderson inside the realm.
Minamino ought to have gained it within the closing minute when, after Sadio Mané’s header had struck Cools, the midfielder transformed the free ball from shut vary. Minamino was not offside however VAR as soon as once more perplexed by ruling that Mané, a late substitute for Jota, had headed Henderson’s cross towards his personal hand. Klopp seemed on bewildered, as nicely he would possibly.