LIVERPOOL 0-1 INTER MILAN: MATCH REVIEW
Liverpool succumbed to a rare Anfield defeat last night as Inter Milan earned a 1-0 victory. It was a result that saw the Reds go through 2-1 on aggregate. The quarter finals now awaits. Here’s a review of the match.
You can find player ratings from the game here:
° Lineup. Jürgen Klopp made four changes to the side that saw off West Ham on Saturday. Matip came back in for Konaté who was unavailable, Jones and Thiago came in for Henderson and Keita in midfield whilst Diogo Jota came in for Luis Diaz in attack.
° Poor start. It was a very sloppy start across board for the home side. Simple passes were going astray, and no one seemed able to kill a ball dead with one touch. The front three especially, lost the ball on several occasions in the opening 20 minutes.
It was a tepid start with the midfield three losing out on almost every 50-50. Fabinho and Jones especially, seemed to struggle to get to wraps with the physicality in midfield. They couldn’t get a foothold early on and with the ball bouncing off the front three, it made for a poor first 20 or so.
° Medical emergency. The game was stopped after 24 minutes, with Klopp alerting the referee to a medical emergency in the stands. This unfortunate event has creeped into our existence since fans were allowed back into stadiums after lockdown. Thankfully the person was quickly attended to and is now doing well.
° Reds regroup. The break in play handed Liverpool a chance to regroup and adjust to Inter’s formation and approach. After the restart, they were the dominant force. The relentless Trent created two chances for his centre backs with pinpoint deliveries from set pieces.
The first, a free kick, was perfectly placed on Matip’s head but his header came crashing off the crossbar. Barely two minutes later, Trent was at it again, this time whipping in a corner for Van Dijk to attack. The Dutchman’s header came off Skriniar’s head and deflected over.
On the stroke of halftime, Trent sent Handanovic scrambling frantically across his goal with a direct free kick which flew just past the top corner. He was once again the Reds best player on the night, creating a game leading 5 chances.
Alexander-Arnold vs Inter:
• 127 touches (1st)
• 100% dribble success rate
• 100% aeriel duels won
• 77% pass accuracy
• 72 passes completed (2nd)
• 9 ball recoveries (2nd)
• 6 long balls completed (2nd)
• 5 chances created (1st)
• 4 accurate crosses (1st)
• 2 shots attempted (=2nd)
• 2 clearances (2nd)
• 2 successful dribbles (=2nd)
• 1 interception
• 1 big chance created (=1st)
° Midfield wakes up. The trio of Fabinho, Thiago and Jones finally came to the fore in the 15 minute period either side of halftime. Thiago was winning the ball back and setting off attacks, Fabinho was winning his duels, and Jones was making direct runs at the Inter defence causing panic amongst their backline.
Thiago’s lofted through pass was half cleared by Handanovic and fell to Salah 12 yards from goal. The Egyptian should have finished it off but his strike came off the post. The midfield trio’s influence waned again around the hour mark.
° Inter break the deadlock. Inter rode the red storm at the start of the second half and started applying pressure of their own. Theirs told when Lautaro Martinez rifled an unstoppable strike into the top corner, after a poor pass out from the back by Matip.
It was just reward for Inter who had shown bravery to come to Anfield and play their game. They didn’t cower into their shells but rather took the game to Liverpool. Brozovic was influential as he aided the Nerazurri in playing through the high press from the hosts. The goal had reignited their hopes of qualification.
° Sanchez sent off. Just as quickly as Inter hopes were renewed were they dashed once more. Sanchez, who could have been sent off in the first half for a terrible stamp on Thiago’s knee, lunged in on Fabinho and caught him on the follow through. He was shown a second yellow and Inter were down to ten men.
° Quick double sub. Straight after the sending off, Klopp repeated the double substitution he made in the first leg, with Henderson and Keita coming on, this time for Thiago and Jones. The manager sought control after a wild few minutes.
° Sting is taken out of the game. Henderson got on the ball immediately and calmed the whole game down. Inter had a man disadvantage and the skipper wanted them to tire themselves out by chasing the ball. He moved the ball from side to side and starved them of possession.
° Not a good day for the forwards. Salah hit the post again after Mané’s wonderful pass. It was a poor night for all three with Salah missing two ‘big chances’, Mané having the least touches (47) of any outfielder to play 90 minutes, and Jota not even attempting a single shot or creating a single chance for his teammates.
° Diaz denied at the death. Luis Diaz came on for just 8 minutes plus stoppage time but again made his mark. He should have scored his maiden Champions League goal when Trent found him free in the box. His attempted no look finish was somehow deflected over by the tireless Vidal.
1 goal in 9 appearances doesn’t do justice to the impact Diaz has made since joining the club. He could really do with finding his scoring boots. He has been unlucky not to add to his single strike, and it’s surely a matter of time till he starts reaping his just rewards infront of goal.
° Liverpool see it out with minimum fuss. Henderson and Keita’s introduction, along with the sending off, killed the game. Inter didn’t have one more sniff of goal till the final whistle blew. That last 25 minutes was perfect game management, even if it came at the expense of a loss.
° Anfield defeat. The disappointing part of the night was the Reds suffering their first defeat at Anfield since Fulham made it six straight defeats at the famous stadium a year ago. It’s only the second home defeat in Europe under Klopp’s tenure. The defeat also ended a run of 12 consecutive wins in all competitions.
° Last eight. That’s all moot however as the main objective of qualifying for the quarter finals was reached. The last eight beckons with Liverpool and Bayern Munich the first two teams to seal their place. They’re likely to be joined by PSG, Man City, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Ajax and Juventus.
It is a seriously strong pool with no ‘weak’ side. This is where the competition heats up. Country protection won’t be in effect in the draw next Friday so there’s a possibility of being drawn against an English side. Imagine a tie against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea again!
° Carabao Cup hangover. The Reds looked fatigued and far from their best against West Ham and then Inter Milan. It seems 120 minutes and a marathon penalty shootout took a lot more from the players than we anticipated. For the first time in a long while, our press looked beatable last night.
We are in the business end of the season and on the chase for three more trophies. That means there’s no time off. Games will keep coming thick and fast and the manager has to find a way to rejuvenate his side in the face of the challenges that lie ahead.
° What next? A trip to the Amex stadium on Saturday to take on Graham Potter’s Brighton and Hove Albion. The Seagulls came from two goals down to take a point at Anfield earlier in the season and will be no pushovers infront of their home crowd.
The Reds have to be at their best to get the win. They need to find their scoring touch once more. Since putting six past Leeds, they have only managed three goals in the last six and half hours of football. Victory will see pressure piled on City as the gap will be cut back down to three points.