Ajax 0-1 Liverpool: Player ratings as Reds battle to three Group D points
Liverpool ended their run of three games without a win by doggedly beating Ajax.
Nicolas Tagliafico’s clumsy own-goal was ultimately the difference, though Davy Klaassen hit the post and Liverpool spurned opportunities of their own in the closing stages.
Here’s how the Reds rated in Amsterdam…
Adrian – 7
It was far from a confident start – the mix-up with Gomez and the flashbacks to the howler at Southampton – and the finish was nervy as well, a flapped punch falling to Jurgen Ekkelenkamp who mercifully lifted the ball over.
But the bit in between was pretty good. There was a vital close-range stop from Quincy Promes. You might say it was straight at him, but honestly, if that’s Alisson he ‘made himself big’. And there were also a series of cleaner attempts to bat away Ajax deliveries.
Don’t get me wrong, the anxiety is palpable, but this was one of Adrian’s better games overall.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
He cuts something of a frustrated figure at the moment, with Andrew Robertson outshining him in an attacking sense. Defensively, he was solid enough though. A late booking for timewasting can be forgiven, or even encouraged.
Fabinho – 9
The outstanding positive on the night. Fabinho brought his trademark tenacity to his new on-field home, and it was so pleasing and indeed reassuring to watch.
With four tackles, four interceptions and nine clearances, he was nothing short of a rock. And his magnificent goal-line clearance was a match-winning moment.
He almost contributed at the other end when Andre Onana floundered.
Every Liverpool player needs to stand up and be counted, Fabinho perhaps more than most. He looked like he relished that responsibility.
Joe Gomez – 8
He too deserves credit. Too often recently, Gomez has been a little passive, reacting to attacking events rather than taking charge.
Here, he was active and aggressive, repeatedly overpowering opponents. Much more like it.
Andrew Robertson – 7
A performance that deserved more tangible reward. Robertson was characteristically relentless as he rampaged forward with menace.
He motored into space and fed Mohamed Salah, who couldn’t convert, before arriving a fraction too late to tap home a Takumi Minamino ball across goal. The desire on show was fantastic.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 6
Largely anonymous in the first half, Wijnaldum ventured further forward as the game progressed and wound up missing two good opportunities to settle it. First, he headed onto the roof of the net, and then he was thwarted after collecting Diogo Jota’s through ball.
Does he still get in our strongest midfield, or should it be Keita when fit? An intriguing one.
Curtis Jones – 6
Jones’ eye-catching selection dominated the pre-match discussion, but that was there the buzz ended for tonight at least.
He was desperate to make an imprint on the game but it wouldn’t come off for him. Trying a little too hard? Maybe. Henderson’s introduction began to look increasingly inevitable.
James Milner – 7
Another James Milner game, another yellow card for a tactical foul, another robotic 7/10. Milner’s ball progression can be a little slow, but he excelled in breaking up play, taking the ball back more frequently than any of his team-mates. A valuable presence.
Mohamed Salah – 6
Some good moments but only one real opportunity to bag his 101st goal – the blocked effort following Robertson’s aforementioned pass.
He was one of those surprisingly sacrificed just before the hour mark with an eye on the weekend. Annoyingly for him, the game then proceeded to open up.
Roberto Firmino – 5
If Firmino isn’t going to provide a goal threat, it’s important that he can fashion chances for others. His game is unfortunately lacking in both respects at the moment.
Too many passes aimed at Salah or Mane are coming up short and too many finishes are charitable. Here he failed two punish Ajax from two clear headers. His place in the team is increasingly at risk.
Sadio Mane – 7
Mane’s pass execution in the final third also left a bit to be desired, but he redeemed himself by silkily shrugging off Mazraoui to fashion the chance that led to the winning own-goal. Let’s say it was a piece of skill that earned the lucky break.
Jordan Henderson – 6
Not much to report, but it’s comforting to have Henderson on the pitch when we’re scrapping away like that.
Takumi Minamino – 6
Twice went close to scoring and spun away from the defence brilliantly before almost teeing-up Robertson. A fairly good cameo.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 6
Set-up one of those Minamino chances with a neat pass. Quiet overall, but is a very good option if he stays injury-free.
Diogo Jota – 7
The most impressive of the auxiliary front three, Jota carried a real threat. He hunted the ball with a great appetite, and that nearly earned him a remarkable goal when he charged down Onana’s sweep.
At one point he looked as if he was going to tear a hole in the Ajax defence himself and seal it, but he played the ball behind Minamino to take the sting out of a hugely promising counter. He then had a shot blocked moments later.
Still, Wijnaldum ought to have earned him an assist.