Liverpool and AC Milan treated spectators to yet another Champions League classic at Anfield. The European powerhouses met for only the third time, with the previous two meetings both being finals.
A real rollercoaster of a match saw the Reds secure all three points on matchday one of the Champions League. However, it wasn’t a walk in the park for them. After dominating the opening exchanges, a one goal cushion wasn’t enough. Five minutes at the end of the opening 45 saw Liverpool switch off and fall 2-1 behind.
On the balance of play, the second half turn around for the home side was probably the fair result. The 3-2 victory sees Liverpool take top spot in Group B after the opening round of fixtures.
Liverpool Kick Off Champions League Campaign With Win in Five Goal Thriller
Milan Shock Liverpool in Late First Half Turnaround
Encouraged by an electric Anfield atmosphere, Liverpool came at AC Milan quickly, with typical ‘heavy metal’ football from Jurgen Klopp’s men. Waves of attack flooded the Milan backline, with the deadlock broken just nine minutes in. Trent Alexander-Arnold linked up with Mohamed Salah down the right, with the former driving towards the byline. His attempted cross deflected off Fikayo Tomori and into the net for an own goal, no more than Liverpool deserved.
It looked certain to be 2-0 to Liverpool after 14 minutes. Andy Robertson saw a powerful effort blocked by Ismael Bennacer, but the Milan midfielder did so with his hand. The referee pointed to the spot, booking the Algerian in the process. Normally a safe bet from the spot, Salah saw Mike Maignan keep his effort out. It certainly came as a shock, as he converted his last 17 penalty kicks for the Reds.
Very much against the run of play, the first attack of the half for Milan saw them level the match. Rafael Leao slipped a ball in behind to Ante Rebic who slotted home clinically past Alisson first time, minutes before the break.
108 seconds later, the away side took the lead. Rebic squared the ball to Theo Hernandez who saw his shot blocked on the line by Robertson. Brahim Diaz was on hand for the Rossoneri to put the ball into an empty net on the line. A quick reminder to the Reds that you can never switch off in a European game and you’re never safe.
Joe Gomez was making his first start for the Reds since November 2020, and maybe displayed some rustiness in the goals. On both occasions he played Rebic onside, costing Liverpool. It is hard to be overly critical of the Englishman, after so long on the sidelines it’ll take time to get back into the groove.
Liverpool Comeback in Istanbul-Style
Less than 60 seconds into the second half, eyebrows were raised. A smart corner routine for Milan saw Jordan Henderson miss his clearance and Simon Kjaer fired home from the back post. Fortunately for Liverpool, the earlier pass from the corner was offside, ruling the goal out.
The hosts were back level quickly after. In his first start since January, Divock Origi linked up with Salah on the edge of the box, scooping a mouth-watering ball into the Egyptian. He made up for his earlier penalty miss, poking past Maignan in the Milan goal.
When his side needed him most, the Skipper stepped up with his first goal in the Champions League for seven years. Alexander-Arnold’s corner was headed away at the near post, straight to Jordan Henderson on the edge of the box. With the ball bouncing up at him, the number 14 caught his strike as sweet as possible. He smashed the ball into the ground and beyond a helpless Maignan. A goal worthy of winning any match. Liverpool coming from behind at half time to beat AC Milan sounds incredibly familiar…
Jurgen Klopp: “We Got Carried Away”
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, the Liverpool boss had the following to say: “We start incredibly well. We played a super game. Super intense game, and football wise too. We got a bit carried away by our own football. We didn’t keep it that simple.”
The Liverpool boss will take the number of positives from the game, but will be well aware of the improvements that could be taken into the Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on Saturday.
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