Stunning Jordan Henderson strike completes comeback win in instant classic against AC Milan
Champions League Group B, Anfield – Liverpool 3 (Tomori OG 9’, Salah 48’, Henderson 69’) AC Milan 2 (Rebic 42’, Diaz 44’)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Jordan Henderson of Liverpool celebrates with teammates Joe Gomez and Andrew Robertson after scoring their side's third goal during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Liverpool FC and AC Milan at Anfield on
Jordan Henderson scored a stunning winner as Liverpool edged to a 3-2 victory over AC Milan in a barnstorming Champions League Group B clash at Anfield.
The Reds captain settled a rollercoaster affair 21 minutes from time with his first goal in the competition since November 2014 to ensure the Rossoneri’s return to Europe’s premier competition following a seven-year absence ended in defeat.
The hosts made a super-charged start with an aggressive, high press that led to a goal inside nine minutes as Trent Alexander Arnold’s run and shot ended up deflecting into his own net off former Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori.
Mo Salah then blew the opportunity to double the advantage just five minutes later when he saw his penalty saved by Mike Maignan. It was the Egyptian’s first failure from the spot in 18 attempts in a period spanning almost four years.
Milan had looked shell-shocked after a one-sided half of football but put together a couple of moves to score two goals in two minutes right at the end of the half courtesy of Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Brahim Diaz of Milan celebrates after scoring their 2nd goal during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Liverpool FC and AC Milan at Anfield on September 15, 2021 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
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Liverpool responded and were level three minutes after the restart when Divock Origi capped a rare start with an exquisite assist for Salah to redeem himself and flick home. It was the forward’s 71st goal in what was his 100th Anfield appearance and saw him move level with Steven Gerrard (14) as the Reds' joint-highest scorer in European Cup/UEFA Champions League games in L4.
The Merseysiders continued to look the more likely and Henderson produced a moment of magic when he sizzled home a half-cleared corner to earn all three points for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Next up in Group B, Liverpool visit FC Porto while AC Milan host Atletico Madrid on Tuesday September 28.
Liverpool 'lost the plot', admits Klopp after 'very entertaining' win
Another special European night at Anfield. It is 553 days since Kopites were last able to enjoy a Champions League evening inside one of Europe’s most famous venues – and it was well worth the wait. After the pre-match hype of the 2005 final this game also delivered twists and turns that will live long in the memory. Liverpool rolled back the years with a breath-taking start that threatened to turn AC Milan’s return to Europe's top competition into something of a nightmare.
However, the profligacy that has been a mild criticism of their fine start to the season was there to see once again as a Milan side that should have been dead and buried showed them how to be clinical with a double-blast at the end of the half. The Reds responded and Salah got his obligatory goal before Henderson thumped home the kind of winner that was right out of the Gerrard repertoire of stunning Champions League strikes.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates his teams first goal during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Liverpool FC and AC Milan at Anfield on September 15, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chloe Knot
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Klopp had rested Virgil van Dijk and only brought on Sadio Mane past the hour, but his gamble paid off and he will be delighted to have given minutes to Origi and Joe Gomez, who both impressed.
Milan will take heart after recovering from a tough opening and look capable of being dark horses in the competition if they can navigate a tough pool. Indeed, you sense such a strong group is going to have similar twists and turns in the weeks and months ahead, but Liverpool came out on top and are off to the perfect start.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool). A solid all-round showing from the skipper. Helped control the game throughout a dominant first 45 before stepping up in true captain’s fashion to net on this stage for the first time since a 2-2 draw away to Ludogorets on November 26, 2014.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Jordan Henderson of Liverpool celebrates scoring his teams third goal during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Liverpool FC and AC Milan at Anfield on September 15, 2021 in Liverpool, England
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LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 7, Gomez 7, Matip 7, Robertson 8, Fabinho 7, Keita 7, Henderson 8, Salah 8, Origi 7, Jota 7. Subs: Mane 6, Jones 6, Thiago 6, Milner n/a, Oxlade-Chamberlain n/a.
9’ - GOAL! – Liverpool 1-0 AC Milan. The hosts get their reward for such a strong start. Trent Alexander Arnold exchanges a one-two with Salah and charges into the box before seeing his low cross deflect into the back of the net.
14’ – LIVERPOOL PENALTY MISSED! Mike Maignan dives to his right to keep out Salah's penalty before getting up to thwart Jota's effort on the rebound. The spot kick was awarded after Ismael Bennacer was adjudged to have blocked Robertson’s strike with his arm.
42’ - GOAL! – Liverpool 1-1 AC Milan. The Rossoneri are level. It's completely out of the blue as Rebic polishes off a smart move involving Alexis Saelemaekers and Rafael Leão with a low finish beyond Alisson from the left side of the box.
44’ - GOAL! – Liverpool 1-2 AC Milan. Another excellent Milan attack down the left catches Liverpool out. Diaz slides in the rebound after Robertson had blocked an initial effort from Hernandez on the line.
48’ - GOAL! – Liverpool 2-2 AC Milan. Salah flicks the ball into the corner ahead of the keeper after racing on to Origi's delightful scooped pass.
69’ - GOAL! – Liverpool 3-2 AC Milan. Henderson rifles a first-time half volley into the bottom corner after a right-wing corner was nodded into his path.
Salah failed to convert a penalty for just the second time in 19 attempts for Liverpool, with this his first since failing to score versus Huddersfield in October 2017.
There was just 110 seconds separated AC Milan's equaliser and Brahim Diáz's goal to take them into a 2-1 half time lead at Anfield.
Salah is now Liverpool's joint-highest scorer in European Cup/UEFA Champions League games at Anfield, with his 14th taking him level with Steven Gerrard.