Liverpool player ratings vs Red Star Belgrade
Liverpool suffered a shock 2-0 defeat at the hands of Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade in front of a hostile crowd in Belgrade.
The Reds dominated possession but failed to create enough chances. Milan Pavkov headed in the opener from a corner in the 22nd minute and doubled the advantage for the home side with a wonderful curling effort from range just before the half-hour mark.
Liverpool looked way off the pace in the first half but improved in the second half as Mohamed Salah came close on a couple of occasions.
The home side put up a strong defensive performance, not allowing Jurgen Klopp’s men to get a clear sight of goal.
The defeat puts Liverpool in second place in Group C, just behind Napoli on goal difference. Jurgen Klopp should be relieved that the other game in Group C between Napoli and PSG ended in a 1-1 draw, which should keep Liverpool within striking distance of a spot in the last 16.
1. Alisson (5/10)
Made a good save in the first half before the opener; hardly at fault for the first goal but should have done better with his positioning to prevent the second from going in.
2. Trent Alexander Arnold (5/10)
He was put under a lot of pressure at the back and looked a bit indecisive going forward; lacked the quality in both halves of the pitch and this is his third below-par display in a row.
3. Andrew Robertson (6.5/10)
Looked quite solid at the back and operated as a specialist winger in the second half; put in the hard yards and unlucky to have his cross deflected on to the bar.
4. Virgil van Dijk (6/10)
Wasn’t a very convincing display by the Dutchman; looked a bit rusty and misplaced a header which led to the opener; should have kept his header on target towards the end.
5. Joel Matip (5/10)
Showed exactly why he is not one of the first names on the team sheet. Quite solid at the back but lacked authority in his performance; partly to blame for Pavkov’s second and should have scored with a header late on,
6. Georginio Wijnaldum (4.5/10)
Struggled to get into the game in the first half and was too easily brushed aside by Pavkov for the second goal. Improved a little in the second half but wasn’t his best display in a Liverpool shirt.
7. James Milner (5/10)
Should have been penalised for a handball inside the box in the second half; looked fatigued and didn’t have the impact that is expected from him.
8. Adam Lallana (6/10)
Arguably the pick of the midfielders. His goalbound header was deflected wide and looked quite sharp going forward.
9. Sadio Mane (6/10)
Embarked on some powerful runs down the left and created chances in the first half. Not so impactful in the second half.
10. Daniel Sturridge (5/10)
Poor performance by the centre-forward. Missed an easy chance from close range in the first half and looked a bit rusty with the ball at his feet.
11. Mohamed Salah (6/10)
He put in all the effort even when the team wasn’t playing well. Had his shot saved by the goalkeeper and unlucky to hit the crossbar in the dying stages of the game.
1. Joe Gomez (6/10)
Came on for Alexander Arnold and did a much better job as a right-back. Comfortable in possession and contributed to the attack at times.
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2. Roberto Firmino (6/10)
A lively presence in the final third and looked threatening. Played a few good balls into the box but wasn’t able to get the team back into the game.
3. Divock Origi (N/A)
Came on to replace Lallana for his first appearance in almost a year and a half.
4 Key Passes, 7 duels: This Tottenham powerhouse was one of the architects of dramatic comeback vs Ajax
Spurs Opinion: Dele Alli was one of the architects of the remarkable comeback at Ajax alongside star man Lucas Moura
It was incredible scenes at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on Wednesday night, as Spurs produced a miraculous comeback to stun Ajax 3-2 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals to progress to the finals on the virtue of away goals rule.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side set up an all-English showdown with Liverpool in the final scheduled to be held at the Wanda Metropolitano on the 1st of June.
Tottenham’s remarkable comeback sparked by Lucas Moura’s second-half hat-trick ensured that the Champions League final was going to be contested between two English teams for the first time since 2007-08 when Man United beat Chelsea on penalties in the finals at Moscow to lift the cup.
Spurs needed to be at their best to give themselves a chance of halting Ajax’s fairytale run in the Champions League and it was always going to be an uphill task for them to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.
Away from home in front of a hostile crowd at the Amsterdam Arena and without the services of Harry Kane, Spurs faced an overly tough challenge, which was made a near-impossible one by first-half goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech.
The Lilywhites looked rattled against an energetic and hungry Ajax side, who showed plenty of desire and determination to press their opposition off the ball. Kieran Trippier’s nightmarish outing at the back allowed the home side plenty of joy and the tie looked all but sealed even before half-time, with Ajax leading 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate.
However, things took a complete U-turn in the second half. Spurs managed to pull their socks up and came out with a point to prove, showing more intent and purpose in the first 15 minutes after the interval to bring the tie back to life.
Lucas Moura’s quickfire brace in a space of just three minutes prior to the hour mark allowed Spurs to draw level on the night, though Ajax still had a 3-2 lead on aggregate.
Hakim Ziyech had multiple opportunities to put the tie to bed but the Moroccan hit the post once and fired his shot agonisingly wide on another occasion, while Hugo Lloris produced a sharp save to keep out his third attempt.
As the game wore on, it looked as if Ajax were going to make it to the finals, despite Spurs putting up a brave fight, but Moura completed his hat-trick in the 96th minute to put his name down in the history books of the competition.
The Brazilian’s stoppage-time heroics should endear him to the hearts of the fans at north London and few can deny that he has been a key contributor for Spurs with his goals and assists.
Well, it was Moura, who was the undisputed star in Spurs’ remarkable comeback, but in all honesty, Spurs stepped their game up as a team in the second half and managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat.
While Moura was the star of the show, Dele Alli’s contribution throughout the game should also be recognised, as the Englishman was not only the provider on two occasions but he was arguably Spurs’ most influential presence in the midfield alongside Eriksen.
Going back to the first half, Alli created a gilt-edged chance for Heung-min Son with a delightful pass, only for the Korean to fire his shot straight at the goalkeeper. Alli himself should have scored in the first half when Eriksen played him into a great position but he scuffed his finish and the chance went begging.
In the second half, prior to Lucas Moura’s goals before the hour mark, it was Alli, who had the first real chance to get Spurs back into the game. Eriksen once again played him in behind the backline but Alli’s effort was kept out by a fine save from Andre Onana.
Alli, though, finally made amends to set up Moura’s first goal when he danced his way through the defenders to lay the ball in the Brazilian’s path. And he also bagged the assist for Moura’s injury-time winner, setting the Brazilian up with a slick pass after Llorente had flicked it on.
The 23-year-old registered a total of 29 passes at an accuracy percentage of 76.3, including 2 assists, 2 dribbles and 4 key passes, while winning 7 out of 21 duels on the night. Defensively, he was no slouch either, registering 2 key tackles. He did miss a chance in the first half, but barring that, he was absolutely phenomenal.
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Spurs next play host to Everton in the final match week of the Premier League on Sunday and Mauricio Pochettino’s side will head into the game high on confidence after this remarkable performance.
Poch’s change in tactics, Dele Alli’s brilliance and more: A tactical run-down of Tottenham’s incredible 3-2 win vs Ajax
UEFA Champions League Post Match Analysis: Ajax 2-3 Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur stunned Ajax 3-2 at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam in the second leg of UEFA Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday night, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side produced a miraculous turnaround away from home to set up an all-England final with Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano on the 1st of June.
It was Liverpool, who defied the odds to stun Barcelona at Anfield last night but Spurs came up with arguably their best ever comeback in European football after being 2-0 down on the night and 3-0 behind on aggregate. Both the team finished with an aggregate scoreline of 3-3 but Spurs progressed to the finals on away goals rule.
Ajax would have felt that they already had a foot on the final when Matthijs de Ligt put them ahead on the night with a towering header just 5 minutes into the game. The hosts looked pumped up in front of a raucous home crowd and did everything to ensure that their fairytale run in the competition continued.
Things got better for Erik Ten Hag’s side when Dusan Tadic set it up brilliantly for Hakim Ziyech to make it 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate midway through the first half. It was all going wrong for Spurs and Ajax were by far the better side in the first forty-five minutes, though the Premier League giants also had a few opportunities of their own.
Trailing 3-0 on aggregate, Tottenham needed nothing short of a miracle to turn things around in the second half and the job looked all the more difficult in the absence of their talismanic striker Harry Kane, who watched on from the sidelines.
Lucas Moura, however, had other ideas, and the Brazilian rose to the occasion to complete a hat-trick in the second half, breaking Ajax’s hearts and setting up a final showdown with Liverpool. It wasn’t only Moura, who put the foot on the accelerator in the second half, but Spurs as a team were absolutely unstoppable, as they sparked off wild celebration amongst the handful of travelling fans from north London.
Although both the teams produced some nail-biting end-to-end stuff on the night, it was a tactical seesaw battle between two world-class managers split into two halves. Let us get a deeper insight into how things went by at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Wednesday night.
1. Pochettino’s change of tactics from the first leg defeat
Pochettino came under the spotlight for his questionable tactics in the 1-0 home defeat to Ajax in the first leg. As opposed to the first leg where Spurs went in with a back-three system with two wing-backs, Pochettino was well aware of Ajax’s extravagant pressing in the midfield and he fielded a back four with a midfield diamond this time around.
Spurs had the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Victor Wanyama, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen in their midfield four but they weren’t able to deal with Ajax’s high press, as the home side showed more desire and determination to press their opposition off the ball. Donny van de Beek and Lasse Schone, in particular, played a very important role for Ajax in the midfield, while, on the other hand, Wanyama looked completely off the pace and visibly lacked the sharpness to deal with opposition’s energetic and aggressive approach.
Ajax won the midfield battle in the first half and as a result of that, they created more clear-cut chances. Spurs, on the other hand, were a bit all over the place, and although the likes of Heuing-min Son, Lucas Moura, Eriksen and Alli all had chances to get shots away on goal, they lacked the clinical edge in their attack.
2. Trippier’s defensive horror show
Kieran Trippier has made the headlines for some high-profile uncharacteristic defensive errors this season and his poor run of form continued. The right-back single-handedly gifted Ajax the opener, as he lost track of de Ligt inside the box and allowed him to head it home off a corner.
Things got bad to worse for Trippier as the game wore on and Dusan Tadic got the better of him numerous times. The England international’s poor positional sense allowed Tadic to run clear through on goal but Spurs survived a scare, as he fired his left-footed shot just wide of Hugo Lloris’s far post.
Trippier, though, didn’t learn from his mistakes and was all over the place in the first half. He was once again caught out of position by Tadic and the Serb raced through the pitch to set up Ziyech for the second goal, though he can share the blame for that with Wanyama, who didn’t make much of an effort to close down the Moroccan.
All in all, it was a defensive horror show from Trippier that led to Spurs’ demise in the first half.
3. Lack of a focal point in Spurs’ attack
Lucas Moura and Son were supposed to play as the two mobile strikers up front with Alli and Eriksen in support but it looked as if neither of the players knew where their actual position was.
Eriksen threaded a lovely through ball for Alli but he scuffed his finish and Son did the same thing when Alli played him into a good position to have a crack on goal. Moura, Son, Alli and Eriksen all had attempts in the first half but Spurs looked a bit disjointed in the final third and they just weren’t able to capitalise on their half-chances.
1. Pochettino’s masterstroke to introduce Fernando Llorente
The lack of a focal point in Spurs’ attack was one of the major reasons behind their undoing and Pochettino responded to the situation by introducing 34-year-old Fernando Llorente. Llorente has scored some crucial goals for the team off the bench but it is his hold-up play, physicality and aerial ability that adds another dimension to Spurs’ attack.
The introduction of Llorente and the consequent withdrawal of Wanyama at half-time meant that the Spaniard was going to operate as the focal point of the attack with Moura and Son playing on either side of him. Alli played as the supporting striker, while Eriksen dropped down to join Sissoko in a more withdrawn role.
The introduction of Llorente reinstated a sense of organisation and discipline in the attack and the Spaniard went on to play a key role without getting his name of the scoresheet. It was his blocked effort from close range that led to the scramble inside the box and Moura’s second goal, while the veteran showed some delightful link-up play to play a pivotal part in the build-up to the Brazilian’s injury-time winner.
Llorente’s presence helped Spurs improve massively in the attacking third, both in terms of cohesion and link-up play, and he once again proved how important a player he can be in the absence of Kane.
2. Dele Alli’s impact and Lucas Moura’s brilliance
Llorente’s introduction certainly had a positive impact and Spurs came out in the second half with a point to prove, even though they had a near-impossible task in front of them. That, however, wasn’t going to put them off and a dominant spell in the first 15 minutes of the second half brought the tie back to life.
Dele Alli got his act together, and so did Lucas Moura. Alli showed his dancing feet to lay the ball into the path of Moura, who used his pace to beat the defenders and made it 2-1 with a neat finish from the inside of his left foot. Buoyed by the goal, Spurs pushed harder and Moura reacted in time to put the ball into the back of the net after Llorente’s blocked shot led to a chaotic situation inside the box.
In fact, Alli himself had a chance to score early in the first half when Eriksen played him in behind Nicolas Taglifico with a sumptuous lobbed pass, only for Andre Onana to make a wonderful stop.
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Alli was once again in the thick of things when he set up Moura for the winner in stoppage time and Spurs ultimately completed a remarkable comeback to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
5 key saves: This Liverpool magician played a key role in their 4-0 victory vs Barcelona at Anfield – Agreed?
Liverpool Opinion: Alisson was the unsung hero in the Reds’ stunning 4-0 victory over Barcelona at Anfield
Liverpool stunned Barcelona 4-0 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals at Anfield on Tuesday night, as braces from Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi propelled the Reds to their second successive final of the competition with a 4-3 aggregate scoreline.
It was always going to be a daunting task for Jurgen Klopp’s side to overturn a 3-0 deficit against the La Liga champions, made even more difficult by the absence of Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah up front.
The Reds, however, managed to defy the odds and put up a remarkable performance against Ernesto Valverde’s side at home, which was reminiscent of Rafael Benitez’s side’s dramatic comeback in the 2004-05 Champions League finals against AC Milan.
Liverpool needed an early goal to put Barcelona on the backfoot and they managed to get one back through Divock’s Origi’s opener just 7 minutes into the game. A horrible piece of defending from Jordi Alba allowed Henderson to get inside the box and call Ter Stegen into action before Origi tapped in the rebound to make it 1-0, sparking a ray of hope amongst the raucous Anfield crowd.
Barcelona adopted a defensive approach and looked far from their best but they did create plenty of chances in the first half. Alisson kept out Lionel’s Messi’s powerful near post strike before denying the magician once again to keep the tie alive.
Philippe Coutinho was the next to test Alisson but the Brazilian was equal to the task and kept his international teammate at bay with another sharp save. Jordi Alba had a golden chance to draw level in first-half injury time but Alisson once again saved Liverpool’s demise by coming off his line to block the Spaniard’s goal-bound attempt.
Liverpool were forced into making a tactical change in the second half, with Andrew Roberton’s injury prompting Klopp to shift James Milner to right-back, while Georginio Wijnaldum came off the bench to play Milner’s role in the midfield trio. That change titled the tie in Liverpool’s favour, as Wijnaldum scored a brace in a space of two minutes to draw the Reds level on aggregate with Barcelona.
Trent Alexander Arnold came up with an inch-perfect delivery from the right to set up the Dutchman, who caught the opposition’s defence off-guard with an intelligent late run.
Xherdan Shaqiri was the provider for Wijnaldum’s second and Liverpool’s third on the night, as the Swiss international delivered another delicious ball into the area for the Dutchman to head home from close range.
Liverpool were in no mood to take the tie into extra-time and they continued to play a high defensive line. Messi threaded a wonderful through ball for Luis Suarez, who ran clear through on goal, only to be denied by another fine save from Alisson.
Liverpool’s No.1 between the sticks was once again in the firing line when Ivan Rakitic’s sumptuous lobbed pass found Messi’s run behind the backline but the Brazilian put his body on the line to stop Barcelona from getting the crucial away goal.
Trent Alexander-Arnold justified his inclusion once again and showcased wonderful awareness and high footballing intelligence to set up Origi’s winner with an unorthodox delivery from a corner kick.
Liverpool capped off a fine display at home and completed arguably one of their best ever comebacks in their footballing history. It was a very compact team performance from the Reds that spoke volumes of their character and resilience but the fans have every reason to be divided in their opinion when it comes to the star player of the night.
While some might say that Wijnaldum and Origi were the men who mattered the most, others might be tempted to recall the kind of positive impact that Alexander-Arnold had down the right flank. However, not many would recognise how important a role Alisson played in goal for the Reds on a dramatic night at Anfield.
As a result of Liverpool’s extravagant pressing and high defensive line, Alisson was constantly in the firing line and he made a number of key saves to deny Messi, Coutinho, Suarez and Alba.
The Reds would probably have conceded 4 or 5 on the night had it not been for Alisson’s heroics in goal. The Brazilian was a picture of reliability at the back for Liverpool and it was his presence that allowed the centre-backs and the full-backs to press higher up the pitch.
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Winning the Premier League might not be in Liverpool’s hands any longer but few would argue that Jurgen Klopp’s side will be the outright favourites in the Champions League finals irrespective of whether they face Ajax or Tottenham Hotspur.
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