Liverpool earned a hard fought 2-0 victory over Inter at the San Siro last night. Two second half goals by Firmino and Salah did the damage to hand the Merseysiders a huge advantage going into the return leg at Anfield. Here’s a review of the match.

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° Lineup. Jürgen Klopp again made four changes to his side, with Matip, Henderson, Keita and Firmino making way for Konaté, Elliott, Thiago, and Jota respectively. It was a big call to drop the skipper and an even bigger call to hand 18 year old Harvey his UCL debut making him the youngest player to start a UCL match in the club’s history.

° Strong start. The visitors started the game strongly as they moved the ball around with confidence. They probed in the opening 15 minutes, making inroads into the Inter box. They should have taken a deserved lead when Mané headed Robertson’s free kick delivery narrowly over the bar in the 14th minute.

° Inter respond. The home side didn’t cower into their shells, they grew into the game and started to get a foothold. Perisic was causing problems down the left wing and he set up what could have been the opening goal of the game when Çalhanoğlu crashed his shot against the crossbar after picking up the wingback’s cross.

° Tactical battle. The Serie A is known for its tactical games as teams try to suss each other out on the pitch. Last night was a keenly battled tactical affair with both sides looking to impose their game plan on their opponent. 

° Half chances and good defending. There were half chances for both sides but good defending saw the scoreline stay goalless at the break. Çalhanoğlu did well to intercept an Elliott pass to Salah in the box and Konaté did well to cut out a Dumfries cross towards Dzeko.

Mané also went close with an overhead kick but could only find the side netting. Skriniar headed wide from a corner as well before Perisic put Dzeko through on goal but Van Dijk’s pace saw him recover to shield the ball for Alisson to gather. An entertaining first half but the clinical edge was missing.

Virgil Van Dijk was imperious last night

° Halftime sub. Firmino came on for Jota for the start of the second half with the Portuguese struggling with an ankle injury. It is a worrying sign with the Carabao Cup final just 10 days away. Jota will undergo scans today and the severity of the injury will be revealed.

° Shaky 45-60. The Nerazurri stepped things up after the break. They begun to squeeze higher up the pitch and win the ball back quicker. They penned the Reds in and should have made their dominance count when Perisic’s cross had just too much height on it for Lautaro to tap home.

° Triple sub. Jürgen Klopp responded swiftly and made three changes to turn the tie in his side’s favour. On came Henderson, Keita and Diaz for Fabinho, Elliott and Mané. Elliott did alright first half but was struggling second half. Klopp was proactive with his subs and it paid off as Keita impressed.

° Diaz impact. The Colombian immediately got involved as he drifted across to exchange passes with Trent before seeing his shot blocked behind for a corner. He won another corner when he took on Skriniar down the left wing. He wasn’t shy in shooting from range either. It was just the impact needed in the attacking third.

° Bobby breaks the deadlock. Roberto Firmino has had a ropey couple of weeks with his performances leaving a lot to be desired. He put all that behind him to net the all important opening goal of the tie in the 75th minute. It was a beautifully flicked header at the near post that was deft enough to creep inside the far post.

° Salah seals it. A half cleared free kick was worked back to Trent and he swung in a pinpoint cross to Van Dijk who nodded it down. Salah run onto the ball and hit it first time to send it past Handanovic via the aid of a deflection. That’s now 8 consecutive UCL away game he’s scored in.

° Deserved result. It was a deserved win in the end for the Reds. They enjoyed more possession (54% – 46%), created more chances (9-7), created more big chances (2-0), had more shots (13-9) and registered more shots on target (2-0) than the reigning champions of Italy. It was another professional away performance in Europe.

Firmino celebrates giving his side the lead

° Konaté & Van Dijk were superb. The two centre backs were the best players on the pitch last night and were well worth the clean sheet. It was a dominant display by both as they shut down the threat of Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez.

Ibrahima Konaté vs Inter Milan:

• 89% pass accuracy
• 58 touches
• 40 passes completed
• 4 interceptions (1st)
• 4 ball recoveries
• 4 duels won
• 4 long balls attempted
• 3 long balls completed
• 2 tackles won (=2nd)
• 2 aeriel duels won
• 1 clearance
• 1 shot attempted
• 1 chance created
• Not dribbled past

Van Dijk vs Inter Milan:

• 94% pass accuracy (1st)
• 65 touches
• 50 passes completed
• 8 long balls attempted
• 7 long balls completed
• 7 clearances (1st)
• 5 aeriel duels won (1st)
• 5 ground duels won (=1st)
• 4 ball recoveries
• 3 interceptions (2nd)
• 1 assist
• Not dribbled past

° Hendo was superb. The skipper copped a lot of flak for his disappointing performance at Burnley and was dropped to the bench for this encounter. He came on for the last half hour and turned the tie around with an impressive display to remind everyone what he offers the side.

Jordan Henderson vs Inter Milan:

• 100% ground duels won
• 100% long ball accuracy
• 91% pass accuracy
• 47 touches
• 40 passes completed
• 4 long balls attempted
• 4 long balls completed
• 2 interceptions
• 2 ball recoveries
• 1 chance created

° Jürgen Klopp’s 50th UCL win. Last night’s victory was the 50th of the manager’s career, making him the first German coach to reach that tally and the eighth overall behind the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Louis Van Gaal and Rafa Benitez.

Mohamed Salah scored at San Siro again

It was also the 51st game he has managed in the Champions League as Liverpool boss. It’s a truly tremendous job he’s done at the club. Before he took over in 2015, the club had only competed in the UCL once in the previous five seasons.

Now we’re enjoying the fifth consecutive campaign in Europe’s elite competition, and we aren’t just taking part either. We’ve been to two finals and won one, and we’re regarded as one of the favourites to go on and win it again this season.

° 7/7 in Europe. There’s a reason Liverpool are classes as favourites. Last night was their seventh consecutive win in the Champions League this season after winning all six group games in the supposed Group of Death. With one foot already in the quarters, you wouldn’t bet against this side going all the way.

° What next? Attention will turn to the Premier League and the task of closing down the 9 point gap on Manchester City. 5 of Liverpool’s next 6 games are at Anfield with the only exception being the Carabao Cup final at Wembley. Norwich are the visitors this Saturday.

The Reds have won each of their last 7 matches in a row and will be looking to extend that run against relegation threatened Norwich and then Leeds before the Cup final.

Next six fixtures:

• (H) Norwich #PL
• (H) Leeds Utd #PL
• (N) Chelsea #CarabaoCupFinal
• (H) Norwich #FACup
• (H) West Ham #PL
• (H) Inter Milan #CL


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