Liverpool 2-1 Ajax: Joel Matip tops late winner to get Champions League campaign back on track

Jurgen Klopp’s side started their Champions League campaign in the worst possible way a week ago, losing heavily to Napoli to continue what has been a poor start to the season.

Victory was a must at Anfield and while Mohamed Salah put them on, Mohammed Kudus hammered in a brilliant equalizer ten minutes later.

It looked like Liverpool were set to drop points for the sixth time in eight games in all competitions this season, but Matip stepped in late to deliver for his side, his header just about crossing the line.

This victory is a much-needed boost for Liverpool as the international break approaches. They are out of action this weekend after their Premier League clash against Chelsea was postponed due to police concerns ahead of the Queen’s funeral.

Klopp had spoken of his side needing to reinvent themselves after Napoli, but his team selection, with the midfield still an area of ​​weakness, was more a series of tweaks than anything drastic.

His decision to give their pressing machine Diogo Jota a first start since May after injury instead of big-money summer signing Nunez was a deliberate attempt to inject more energy up front into the hope it would happen again behind him.

The Portugal international’s early efforts were matched by Thiago Alcantara, on his first start since day one of the season after injury, but fellow midfielders Fabinho and Harvey Elliott weren’t quite on the same level .

Jota’s inclusion paid off in the 17th minute when, for only the second time this season, Liverpool scored first by slipping an inviting ball into the penalty area for Salah to send a left-footed shot past Remko Pasveer .

But the hosts failed to capitalize on that advantage, with Luis Diaz and Jota exploding wide and Salah not having enough from a low cross from Jota.

They were forced to pay in the 27th minute when their right side was exposed as has happened on several occasions this season.

Mohammed Kudus equalized for Ajax with a brilliant finish

/ Action images via Reuters

Trent Alexander-Arnold allowed Steven Berghuis to run past him, Elliot didn’t turn back to cover Steven Bergwijn and it allowed the former Tottenham striker to cross Virgil van Dijk’s path to give Kudus the space needed to shoot the underside. of the crossbar.

Jota and Elliott were replaced by Roberto Firmino and Nunez just after the hour mark as Liverpool moved to 4-2-3-1, but that actually made things more chaotic as they continued to concede possession at the midfield, allowing unmarked Daley Blind to head a header through goal and just past the far post.

Nunez rolled a shot wide after a good interaction between Firmino and Salah and then the Uruguayan fired a cross through the six-yard box which was nicked past the waiting Diaz.

But when Salah’s deflected shot curled down the right, Matip leapt from the resulting corner to get last season’s battered finalists going again.

Additional PA Sport reporting.

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