`Liverpool maintained their perfect record in Champions League Group D with a narrow 2-0 victory over FC Midtjylland at Anfield.
The Merseysiders were always heavy favourites to make it two wins from two at the expense of the Danish minnows but were made to work hard for the points after a below-par showing.
The visitors dealt with the hosts’ lacklustre first-half approach with aplomb and could have gone in at the interval ahead had Anders Dreyer managed to beat Alisson when racing clear on three minutes.
Jurgen Klopp’s side failed to have a single shot on target in the first 45 and were also handed another defensive blow when Fabinho hobbled off with what looked like a hamstring problem.
Fabinho of Liverpool
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The Reds had left their much-lauded front three on the bench to start with and it was no surprise to see Klopp turn to them in the second period.
Mo Salah and Sadio Mane both came on just moments after Diogo Jota tucked in Trent Alexander Arnold’s cut back for the opener and what was the Reds' 10,000th goal. Roberto Firmino was also introduced late on but he blazed over a gilt-edge chance before Salah finally sealed it with a stoppage time penalty.
Next up in Group D, Liverpool visit second-placed Atalanta on November 3. FC Midtjylland will hope to pick up their first points in the pool when they host Ajax.
Liverpool take control of the group, but face up to another injury blow. The Merseysiders picked up the win, but it came at a cost as Fabinho added to their injury woes. The Brazilian was already featuring as a makeshift centre back in the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, leaving Klopp with plenty to mull over in the days and weeks ahead.
Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp watches players warm up ahead of the UEFA Champions league Group D football match between Liverpool and Midtjylland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 27, 2020.
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On a positive note, 19-year-old Rhys Williams came off the bench to fill the gap with the minimum of fuss against the Danes, but will the German boss feel he is ready to partner Joe Gomez if required in what will surely be more testing games ahead? Gomez is Liverpool’s only fit senior central defender as it stands and Klopp may well be rueing allowing Dejan Lovren to leave in the summer – or at least not fully replacing the Croatia international.
Liverpool face West Ham at Anfield on Halloween and then a CL clash at Atalanta prior to a trip to Man City on Sunday November 8. The worst-case scenario would see them go into these important encounters without the return of either Fabinho or Matip, and for once Klopp might be looking forward to the ensuing international break to try and get some of his defenders fit again.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Trent Alexander Arnold (Liverpool). The young full back was the one Liverpool player who showed urgency from the start. Produced a series of dangerous runs and devilish crosses that his teammates failed to make the most of. It was no surprise that his invention led to the all-important opener with an unselfish assist.
Midtjylland's Kenyan-born Australian midfielder Awer Mabil (L) vies with Liverpool's English defender Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) during the UEFA Champions league Group D football match between Liverpool and Midtjylland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west
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LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 8, Gomez 7, Fabinho 5, Robertson 6, Milner 6, Henderson 6, Shaqiri 7, Minamino 5, Origi 5, Jota 7. Subs: R.Williams 7, Wijnaldum 6, Salah 7, Mane 6, Firmino n/a.
FC MIDTJYLLAND: Andersen 6, Andersson 7, Sviatchenko 8, Scholz 8, Paulinho 7, Onyeka 7, Cajuste 7, Dreyer 7, Sisto 7, Mabil 7, Kaba 7. Subs: Anderson.M 6, Evander 6, Pfeiffer n/a, Kraev n/a.
3’ – FC MIDTJYLLAND CHANCE. Almost a dream start for the Danes. Dreyer makes a clever diagonal run in-behind and finds himself one on one with Alisson, but can't fire his shot beyond the keeper. Super stop from the Brazilian.
55’ – GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 FC Midtjylland. Jota taps home the opener after Alexander Arnold played a one-two with Shaqiri and put it on a plate for him.
77’ – FC MIDTJYLLAND CHANCE. Evander makes a hash of taking down a left-wing cross, but is still allowed to spin and fire a shot just wide.
88’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCE. TAA rolls it across the area for Firmino who blazes over the top from 10 yards out. It should be all over.
90’ – FC MIDTJYLLAND CHANCE. Liverpool are off the hook! Dreyer slaloms into space in the box and dinks it past Alisson, but into the side netting. So close for the away side!
90+3’ – GOAL! Liverpool 2-0 FC Midtjylland. Salah steps up and rifles in the second from the spot to seal victory on his 50th appearance in the CL.
Liverpool have only lost one of their last 27 home games in all European competition (W19 D7).
Liverpool failed to register a single first-half shot on target for the first time in 51 home games in all competitions, since October 2018 against Manchester City in the Premier League.
Jota's goal was Liverpool’s 10,000th scored in their history in all competitions, coming 128 years after their first, netted by Jock Smith in September 1892 in the Lancashire League.