Liverpool succumbed a 2-1 lead in the second-half to throw two points away against Sevilla in their first game of the Champions League group stages.
The Reds started the game in the worst possible fashion, with Dejan Lovren delivering another woeful defensive error that allowed Ben Yedder to slot into the net from close range. Off balance and careless with his footing, the Croatian was caught out to put Jurgen Klopp’s side under pressure after just five minutes.
However, at the other end of the pitch, Liverpool were full of verve and ingenuity. Sadio Mane tested Sergio Rico with a low shot before Roberto Firmino was on hand to equalise after some brilliant work by Alberto Moreno down the left-hand side.
Mohamed Salah completed the turn-around when his strike luckily deflected in off Simon Kjaer – although it was no less than the hosts deserved having thoroughly dominated by way of chances and possession stats. 2-1 up and in control, Liverpool should really have been out of sight when Firmino had the chance to increase the gap between the two sides from the spot.
Georginio Wijnaldum was among several players to have a chance at goal during the second-half but Liverpool’s inability to convert cost them dear in the end, with their Achilles heel at the back coming back to bite them. Luis Muriel’s very late chance could’ve made matters much worse for The Reds, who were left disappointed with the result.
Here are the observations from the match.
Dejan Lovren: A man of mistakes
When he first signed for the club, Lovren was seen to be an authoritative replacement for the void left by Jamie Carragher’s retirement. He’d impressed during his time with Southampton, snapping into tackles and showing composure on the ball that made him an ideal fit for Liverpool’s possession style of play.
However, years on and Lovren has done everything but provide solidity to an already rocky back line. The Croatian was at it again, delivering a horrible mistake for the first goal that set Liverpool back right from the off. Yes, he won his aerial duels with Ben Yedder but that’s none more than you would expect from a man of his size. That’s his job at the end of the day.
Liverpool’s inability to bring in a centre-half this summer looks increasingly troubling, with Lovren unable to deliver consistency or quality alongside Joel Matip. He hardly covered himself in glory for the challenge that saw Joe Gomez receive a second yellow, either.
Gifting the opposition far too much time and space, Lovren failed to give Karius any kind of protection in goal and with such shaky foundations, it’s hard to see Liverpool challenging at the very top this season.
Moreno’s rejuvenation continues
During the 2016 Europa League final, Alberto Moreno was slated for his role in Liverpool’s second-half decline and eventual defeat. The Spaniard was caught in no-mans land, leaving a gaping hole in the defence that Sevilla easily exposed on the day.
This time around though, Moreno was far more impressive. Bursting down the left-hand side, he showed great energy to maraud forward and offer support to Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino – the latter of whom he set up for the equaliser. Delivering a dangerous ball into the box after combining well with Henderson, Moreno made it easy for Bobby to slot home and level things up.
That was the theme of his night, supplying dangerous balls on a consistent basis for The Reds while showing a lot more composure and strength in the defensive third. Of course, there are still things he needs to work on and his tendency to jump into tackles can be rather reckless, but Moreno does look like a changed man in recent weeks.
Long may it continue.
Liverpool’s attack delivers again
The forward line of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane caused some serious problems for Sevilla on the night, setting the tone right from the word go when Emre Can immediately registered a shot on goal after Salah ran forward with the ball.
Firmino was the heartbeat of it all, pressing and harrying the opposition into mistakes with relentless energy on and off the ball. His goal was therefore no more than he deserved for another excellent display leading the line for The Reds, with Salah also striking gold after a helpful slice of luck.
The trio delivered on the European stage at the first time of asking, making it an impossible task for Sevilla to keep them out. The Spanish side even resulted to kicking them into the ground by the end of the ninety minutes just to get some reprieve!
Chances missed, points dropped
Liverpool were head and shoulders above Sevilla and should’ve been miles out of sight before Joaquin Correa’s equaliser in the second-half. Roberto Firmino had a golden chance from the spot which inevitably hit the post, with a total of 19 shots on target resulting in just 2 goals. Their opponents, meanwhile, needed a mere two.
There were some great chances created which should’ve seen the hosts hold a three or four goal cushion by the end of the game – something that has been a common part of the season for Klopp’s side. They lead the stats in most shots taken this summer but have scored only eight times. Failure to be ruthless in front of goal costs you at the very top – as was the case on Wednesday night. Improvement is needed.