European Rivalries Renewed
In only their second-ever match at Anfield, AC Milan and Liverpool put on a show for the lucky supporters in attendance. After 90-minutes it was Liverpool who secured the three points and a 3-2 victory in the clash of former champions. Wins at home in the champions league are always crucial for advancement, but especially in a group of such quality. Porto drawing Atletico in Madrid was just a bonus in what was a great European night for our Reds!
Before we get into the match, let’s review the lineup which clearly had a couple of surprises. Klopp always keeps us on our toes, but I can’t imagine many Red’s supporters expected Joe Gomez to make his first appearance of the season and even fewer expected to see Divock Origi’s name on the team sheet. I believe VVD needed the break and I support making sure the big man is fit and firing all season. Origi starting after not even making the bench the past few matches, was a pure head-scratcher. His play was better than I anticipated but, in the end, I think there were better options from the start. It worked, but not before adding a few more gray hairs to my head.
Trailing at the half, but how???
Liverpool found themselves trailing 1-2 at the half and not even the biggest Milan supporters could say it was warranted. LFC had all the early play with a high press and real energy and focus to their attack. Divock showed a little rust on an early cross but soon enough Liverpool would get on the scoresheet. An own goal by former Chelsea man Fikoyo Tomori in the ninth minute was the result of TAA wrecking havoc. A questionable penalty was given in the 14th minute and it looked as if they would be rewarded for their efforts. Mo stepped up and took a poor penalty and snapped his streak of 17 makes on the bounce. Liverpool continued to dominate play with corners, shots, pressing and you got it, more corners! And then…
Milan leveled out of absolutely nowhere in the 42nd minute when Ante Rebic got in on goal. The team’s play had just dropped a bit when Trent lost focus and the tracking of a run that lead to the goal. Level for less than 2 minutes and AC Milan stuck again, WHAT! The second goal was a bobble and bad bounce that I believe Matip would handle, leading to Brahim Diaz scoring from less than a foot, literally! Somehow after dominating play for 40 minutes Liverpool was the side looking for the halftime whistle.
Oh Captain, My Captain!
Liverpool quickly came out of the second-half break with a similar intensity that the match began with. You could tell Jurgen was not pleased with the lack of concentration that lead to the goals and the boys responded. Divock Origi’s beauty of a scoop sent Mo in on goal, and well, we know what happened next, LEVEL. Unfortunately for Origi, his day would end when he was forced to be subbed off for Sadio Mane in the 63rd minute through injury. Matip setup Jota with a 1-2 for a chance in the box (you read that right) leading to a corner. Trent’s corner didn’t beat the first defender but there was nothing Milan’s defense could do with Hendo’s rocket to the corner. The captain stepped up as he has so many times before when this team needed him most.
Jurgen continued to ring in changes bringing on James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago Alcantara, and Curtis Jones. For Jones, this was his first appearance of the season and it was refreshing to see him in an attacking role. Milner’s experience and savviness were on full display late as he helped see out the victory. Continued rotation is essential for this club to reach the heights it envisions. Especially with extra international breaks and matches tossed into the fray.
Liverpool secured three points and navigated their first tricky test of squad rotation this season. Mo got his goal, Matip is a monster, what else can be said about Hendo but tonight was about Anfield, a full one! What a magical moment it was prematch as they aired YNWA (nice job CBS). 18-Months without supporters in the building on nights like tonight seemed like a lifetime. We missed you, welcome back, and for me, the supporters in the stands were the MOTM! The march to #7 started here!