Match: Liverpool (2) v (1) Hoffenheim
Date: August 23rd @ 19:45 BST
Competition: Champions League Playoff 2nd Leg
Liverpool lineup –
Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno, Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mané
Subs: Karius, Gomez, Solanke, Klavan, Robertson, Milner, Sturridge
Hoffenheim lineup –
Baumann, Nordtveit, Vogt, Hubner, Kaderabek, Demirbay, Geiger, Zuber, Gnabry, Wagner, Kramaric
Subs: Kobel, Bicakcic, Rupp, Polanski, Toljan, Uth, Szalai
Ninety minutes from Champions League football. Ninety minutes from bringing those nights back home. Ninety minutes to make sure that all of their efforts last season were not in vain.
Liverpool were up for this. They seemed like they were out for revenge. For what, I’m unsure, but that’s how they looked and that’s how they played.
As with any ferocious start from the Reds, it left gaping holes at the back and Hoffenheim should’ve taken the lead in the seventh minute, albeit from an offside chance, but it was ruled onside and Gnabry put it wide from right in front of Mignolet. It was a very, very poor miss.
To say they were made to pay for that miss would be like saying Mo Salah is just a little bit quick. Three minutes later and Can scored via a deflection after great work by Mané and a nice back heel to put the German international into wide open space at the edge of Hoffenheim’s box. Shot, deflection, goal. 1-0!
18th minute – Firmino cuts in from the left, displays some dainty footwork, plays a lovely ball to Mané whose first-time side-footed effort cannons back off the post to Salah. He was completely unmarked and tapped it home to make it 2-0!
Two minutes later and Can got his second. This goal was sublime. This was the definition of a team goal. There was some intricate passing in the Liverpool left-back area before the ball came to Gini. Wijnaldum’s pass was stunning, releasing Mané on the left. Mané found Firmino who played in Can at the back post and it was 3-0 to the Red men!
This was Klopp’s football at its best. Bobby looked happier tonight, too. I was watching for that. Bobby is vital, let’s keep Bobby happy.
Julian Nagelsmann, the 30-year-old Hoffenheim head coach, was forced to make an early change to try and shore things up at the back for the Germans. Uth came on for Nordtveit and they went four at the back.
In the 25th minute, Gnabry was put in on the left, behind Alexander-Arnold but again his finishing was very disappointing and his effort went well, well wide. A let off for Liverpool.
Three minutes later and Uth, the substitute scored for Hoffenheim. He showed he could finish last week in Germany and he backed that up again tonight. A great right-footed finish from the right after Moreno was sucked into cover Lovren’s position when Hoffenheim were threatening. Uth finished low and in the corner, giving Mignolet no chance. 3-1.
There were chances for Firmino and Can but it was 3-1 at half-time. Henderson also got a yellow card just before the break for a clumsy challenge on Demirbay.
Half-time: Liverpool 3 – 1 Hoffenheim
It was the 54th minute before we saw the first real chance of the second half. Gini combined with Salah and when he got through one-on-one Wijnaldum’s shot was saved by the head of Baumann, ricocheting out for a corner.
Uth had a chance which he put wide soon after. Hoffenheim were constantly reminding the Reds that they weren’t giving up just yet and always posed a threat.
Mané had a left-footed strike stopped by Baumann two minutes later. Baumann was having a great game. He needed to.
Alexander-Arnold put Wijnaldum through on the hour but again Baumann was able to save from the Dutch midfielder.
Three minutes after that and Henderson chased the ball down off Vogts in the centre of the Hoffenheim defence. Vogts, it has to be said, completely pulled out of the challenge and Henderson broke through before laying the perfect pass off for Firmino to side foot low and into the corner. 4-1!
In the 64th minute, Joe Gomez came in for Alexander-Arnold. Another positive night in the progression of both young men’s careers. Six minutes later and Milner replaced the very impressive Emre Can.
A word has to be said about the Hoffenheim fans. They were a credit to their club and country throughout the night. They never stopped singing and I’m sure they will go on to enjoy the rest of their time in Liverpool.
Demirbay had a shot well saved by Mignolet in the 78th minute. Hoffenheim kept plugging away.
They were rewarded in the 79th minute when Kramaric got the ball wide on the left. He sold Gomez a dummy and turned back onto his right foot. His cross was inch perfect and Sandro Wagner’s header was splendid. Mignolet didn’t stand a chance. 4-2.
There were chances to follow – most notably Firmino shooting wide after being played in by Wijnaldum. Klavan came in to replace Mané in the dying minutes also.
That was how it finished. 4-2 against Hoffenheim and the delight was plain to see on Klopp’s face.
Arsenal come to Anfield on Sunday, but before that, we have the little matter of a Champions League Group Stage draw to watch on Thursday!
Final Score: Liverpool 4 – 2 Hoffenheim
(Aggregate score: Liverpool 6 – 3 Hoffenheim)