champions-league15 September 2021

DEFEAT IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OPENER

Liverpool run out 3-2 winners following a topsy-turvy encounter at Anfield

It was always going to be a tough return to the Champions League for AC Milan, who were up against strong opponents at an electric stadium. And so it proved to be out on the pitch. At Anfield, Liverpool ran out 3-2 winners following a thrilling match. It was a game where the Rossoneri battled away as they tried to deal with the home side’s aggressive start, risked being completely swamped but then hit back, taking the lead through two goals in a matter of minutes at the end of the first half. However, after the restart, the hosts were able to make a comeback of their own. Tonight’s goals were scored by Alexander-Arnold, Rebić, Díaz, Salah and Henderson, with Maignan also saving a Salah penalty and Kjær seeing an effort ruled out for offside.

While the final result is a disappointing one, the team can be moderately satisfied with their performance and especially pleased with the reaction they displayed after initially struggling early on. The Diavolo were clinical with their finishing and gave an excellent side a really hard time. In any case, it was an enjoyable and emotional evening that the Rossoneri will be able to learn from as they look to grow. After matchday one in Group B of the Champions League, AC Milan remain on zero points. In the other encounter, Atlético Madrid and Porto drew 0-0 in Spain. The Rossoneri’s attentions will now turn to Serie A: at 20:45 CEST on Sunday, they’ll face Juve in Turin.

CHECK OUT THE GALLERY FROM LIVERPOOL V AC MILAN

REPORT

The hosts made a ferocious start, with Origi failing to properly connect with Robertson’s third-minute cross. Two minutes later, another Liverpool attack down the left ended with Tomori throwing himself in the way of Jota’s effort. After Maignan had plucked a Matip header from a corner out of the sky on the eight-minute mark, Alexander-Arnold, who had been picked out by Salah, gave The Reds a ninth-minute lead via a deflection off Tomori. Fikayo then did exceptionally well to thwart Salah as the home side continued to push forward. Liverpool had a great chance to double their advantage when they were awarded a penalty following a Bennacer handball. Maignan came to AC Milan’s rescue, however, keeping out Salah’s 14th-minute spot-kick and then Jota’s follow-up. A brief drop in pace followed, although Klopp’s men did have the next notable chance when Maignan turned Salah’s half-volley from the edge of the box behind on the half-hour mark. Having been under siege for most of the half, the Rossoneri turned things around in the space of two minutes. First, Rebić stroked the ball into the far corner with his right foot after collecting Leão’s lovely slide-rule pass in the 42nd minute; then, two minutes later, Díaz tapped home after Hernández’s shot had been blocked on the line by Robertson.

At the start of the second half, Kjær had a goal ruled out due to Hernández being offside in the build-up from a corner. Then, at the other end, Salah equalised in the 48th minute, flicking the ball into the net following a give-and-go with Origi. The first changes were made just after the hour mark, with Florenzi, Giroud and Mané all coming on. Liverpool weren’t letting up: after Maignan had saved Robertson’s 61st-minute attempt, Kjær made a fantastic block to deflect Jota’s goal-bound effort wide. From the resulting corner, Liverpool scored their third, with Henderson arrowing the ball into the near bottom corner after it had dropped to him at the edge of the area after 69 minutes. Fatigue was setting in, resulting in a drop in the speed and number of attacking moves. In the 74th minute, Jones went on a mazy run before curling wide. With the match drawing to a close, Alisson smothered Kjær’s diving glancing header in the 87th minute and Díaz fired over, but a third Rossoneri goal wasn’t forthcoming. It finished 3-2.

MATCH DETAILS

LIVERPOOL 3-2 AC MILAN

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Keïta (71' Thiago), Fabinho, Henderson (84' Milner); Salah (84' Oxlade-Chamberlain), Origi (63' Mané), Jota (71' Jones). Subs: Adrián, Kelleher; Konaté, Phillips, Tsimikas, van Dijk; Minamino. Coach: Klopp.

AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Kjær, Tomori, Hernández; Kessie, Bennacer (71' Tonali); Saelemaekers (62' Florenzi), Díaz, Leão (62' Giroud); Rebić (83' Maldini). Subs: Jungdal, Tătărușanu; Ballo-Touré, Gabbia, Kalulu, Romagnoli. Coach: Pioli.

Referee: Szymon Marciniak (PL).
Goals: 9' Alexander-Arnold (L), 42' Rebić (M), 44' Díaz (M), 48' Salah (L), 69' Henderson (L).
Booked: 13' Bennacer (M), 61' Díaz (M), 92' Milner (L).
Note: Maignan parries Salah's penalty in the 14th minute.


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