Liverpool Fc (The Reds) wrapped up their Last Champions League Group D Match with a 1-1 draw against the hosts FC Midtjylland.
Trent Alexander-Arnold captained the Reds for the first time and Leighton Clarkson was handed his Champions League Debut.
Only Caoimhin Kelleher, Fabinho and Mohamed Salah retained their places from the side that beat Wolverhampton Wanderers Fc in the Premier League Home Clash.
The Home Side went behind in just less than a minute as Mohamed Salah pounced on the ball by shrugging off the challenge from the Last Defender and almost stumbled past the keeper with the ball bundling over the line.
The Reds looked in control of the match much to Klopp’s delight. In the 19th minute, a good cross from Minamino was struck well by Diogo Jota but was blocked by Jesper Hansen.
Divock Origi had the perfect opportunity to make it 0-2 for the Reds but curled his shot too wide off post. Perhaps the Belgian was lacking confidence and Game Time.
The Home side went very close to equalising in the 33rd minute, after a cross from Dion Cools was headed by Sory Kaba from the far post and had beaten Caoimhin Kelleher but was instinctively cleared by Fabinho.
With both Jota and Naby Keïta having their shots denied by Hansen just before the end of the First Half, the Match was finely poised at 0-1 at Half Time.
Fabinho was replaced by Billy Koumetio before the start of the Second Half and that set the tone for the rest of the Match, as the Home Side grew more confident attacking in numbers against an inexperienced Backline. The substitution of Fabinho became a massive turning point for the Match itself for all the wrong reasons for the Reds.
There were plenty of warning signs early in the Second Half which Jürgen Klopp failed to heed. Just in the 48th minute, Evander volley hit the woodwork.
Again in the 50th minute Sory Kaba shot was blocked by Konstantinos Tsimikas following an assist from Awer Nabil.
The attacks from the Home Side were incessant from there on. In the 55th minute, Sory Kaba’s header flew past the post after a neat assist from Paulinho.
VAR has turned out to become a nightmare for the Reds so far this Season. The Home Side was awarded a Penalty after a lengthy VAR Check in the 61st minute after initially was flagged by the Linesman for Offside but was later validated that Dreyer was just onside before getting fouled by Kelleher.
After Kelleher was shown the Yellow Card, Alexander Scholz stepped in and equalised for the Home side after he struck the ball in to the left bottom corner of the net.
Amidst the VAR Review chaos, Tsimikas later limped off with a Leg Injury and was replaced by Andrew Robertson in the 62nd minute. Also, Keïta made way for Jordan Henderson.
Desperate to get the game back in control, Divock Origi was replaced by Roberto Firmino in the 71st minute. Also, Sadio Mané was introduced as the Sengalese replaced Diogo Jota in the 85th minute.
Soon after the Home Side’s Goal was disallowed, more VAR Controversies soon followed as in the 89th minute Mané was adjudged to have handled the ball when he leapt to win Jordan Henderson’s cross before Minamino finished.
In the final minute of stoppage time, Kelleher came out to punch the ball and the Match ended 1-1 with the Home Side having more reasons to feel cheerful.
Reds Team Performance Ratings
Liverpool (4-3-3 Formation)
Caoimhin Kelleher – 7: Despite conceding the Penalty in baffling circumstances, made several fine saves especially after the Second Half and had very little protection from 2 inexperienced young Defenders.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5: Captained the side for the first time but simply was not at his usual best as the Englishman did not get forward and his usual top-notch crosses were below par.
Rhys Williams – 6: With Fabinho around in the First Half, the young Englishman defended the High Ball well but lost composure after the introduction of Koumetio.
Fabinho – 7: The calmness and influence the Brazilian had on the side was been instantly felt as soon as he was replaced by Koumetio. Made a brilliant clearance to deny the equaliser for the Home Side during the First Half.
Konstantinos Tsimikas – 6: Defended well but offered nothing much going forward, before limping off.
Leighton Clarkson – 6: Showcased some array of passing skills but some of the passes missed the intended players and the youngster was constantly outmuscled in the midfield tussle. Not an ideal game for any youngster.
Naby Keïta – 5: Very quiet game from the Guinean and did not shield the defence enough when needed. Perhaps feeling his way back from injury.
Takumi Minamino – 7: Lively and energetic. Provided the opportunity to Jota to give the Reds a commanding lead in the First Half. The Japanese International will feel aggrieved of his Goal being chalked off by a controversial VAR decision.
Diogo Jota – 6: The Portuguese was unable to dictate the tempo of the game as much as he would have liked and was repeatedly denied by Hansen.
Divock Origi – 5: Much better performance compared to his earlier outings. Should have scored the Goal from the chance that he had during the First Half.
Mohamed Salah – 6: Scored the early Goal and could have claimed an assist had Origi not been wasteful during the First Half. Then, from the Second Half went quiet.
Billy Koumetio – 6: The youngster’s introduction turned the game on its head. Won some headers but was very ineffective as the Home Side took full advantage of an inexperienced Backline. The youngster cannot be faulted and could have done better perhaps alongside with a senior Centre Back.
Andrew Robertson – 6: Came on to replace the injured Tsimikas and the Home Side were unable to target the same way as they did with Tsimikas but the Scot could not get forward much to his discontent.
Jordan Henderson – 6: Brought on to bring back the calmness in the Midfield and pulled off a stunning tackle to deny the Winner for the Home Side.
Roberto Firmino – 6: Simply could not dictate the game and struggled to make an impact.
Sadio Mané – N/A: Came on to replace Jota and set up the late winner only for it to be ruled out for handball.
Jürgen Klopp – 5: Everything was smooth sailing right until the introduction of Koumetio. It is understandable that with so many games to play during December 2020, taking off Fabinho would be considered as logical. But that tactical change should never be done before the start of the Second Half while defending just a slender lead.
Klopp can complain as much as he wants about VAR but that tactical change of substituting Fabinho proved to be the turning point. This game itself had no bearings on the Champions League 2020-21 Group D Table as the Reds had already progressed to the Champions League Round of 16.
However, Klopp simply cannot take afford to take the gamble of lining up or brining on youngsters so early in the game against better opposition as the Match can slip away in just a matter of minutes.
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