Liverpool did everything they had to to secure qualification for this season’s Champions League round of 16 and more on Wednesday night in Amsterdam. They only had to avoid defeat by Ajax and went all the way and taught the Dutch champions a lesson in endurance when Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott hit the target to make the final score 0-3.
Although Ajax were eliminated from the tournament after this defeat, it was certainly not due to a lack of effort. They really put in a lot of effort from the first minute and within the first half hour they had last season’s runners-up on the ropes. Their best chance that night came early, but after some great work from Dusan Tadić, Davy Klaassen, Daley Blind and Brian Brobby, all Steven Berguis, completely unhindered at seven or eight yards, could do was hit the post.
Luck was on Liverpool’s side at the time and perhaps the fight would have looked different if the Ajax midfielder had hit the net. He failed, but his team continued to dominate, and the guests generally had difficulty overcoming the middle line. Liverpool did not land a single shot on Remco Passweer’s goal in a third of the match.
The first period was a true testament to how much better Ajax are in attack, especially at the Johan Cruyff Arena where the passionate crowd always has their back. On the other side of the field, Calvin Bassey and Jurrien Timber handled whatever Darwin Nunez or Mohamed Salah threw at them quite comfortably under the protection of the ever-vigilant Edson Alvarez.
But in the end, it wasn’t for Schroeder and his team. Liverpool weathered the storm and eventually walked away with smiles on their faces.
Liverpool hit back
After these 30 minutes, Liverpool began to shift the line of battle further from Alisson Becker and closer to Passveer. A mistake by Joe Gomez in the 36th minute gave the hosts another chance, almost the last they had, to take the lead, but Trent Alexander-Arnold put in a vital block by keeping Tadic from close range.
Five minutes later, Liverpool broke the left flank and captain Jordan Henderson made a fantastic pass with the outside of the boot to free Salah. Passweer came after him and lost the race to the Egyptian, who cold-bloodedly punched the Ajax goalkeeper. Despite all the hopes that Ajax had, boosted by a great start to the match, the score was now 0-1 and from that moment the situation changed.
The Merseysiders clearly needed this goal, perhaps not so much on the scoreboard as to boost their confidence. They were suddenly in the lead, with Ajax completely stunned by the change in pace. Just two minutes later, Robertson and Firmino played beautiful football to set up Nunez, but like Ajax’s Berguis earlier, the Uruguayan striker only managed to hit the post when he really should have scored. A second goal would probably end the fight right here and now, before the whistle for half-time.
However, it ended up happening to Nunes. Less than four minutes into the second half, with Andy Robertson taking a corner from the left with most eyes on Virgil van Dijk, the 24-year-old got the better of a combined effort from Alvarez and Timber and saved a header. to the network. It only took three more minutes for the final score to be established as this time Salah turned into a provider with a perfect pass to release Elliott through the gap between centre-back and left-back and the 19-year-old finished perfectly. with your weaker leg at a very sharp angle. Game over.
From that moment on, Ajax completely lost drive, and Liverpool calmly steered the ship until the final whistle.
Formation of Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp has been searching for the right formula for his team, which has been hit hard by injuries and bouts of bad form from key players. His usual 4-3-3 formation didn’t work, so he used 4-2-3-1 and even 4-4-2 from time to time. For this match, he opted for a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Fabinho at the base, Elliott on the right, Henderson on the left and Firmino playing the 10 behind Nunez and Salah, and it worked really well.
Henderson especially looked much better than in some of the previous matches, making his presence felt on the left flank and helping Salah score the first goal. Salah obviously poses a greater danger to opponents when he plays more in the center than on the right flank, and Nunes, despite an inexplicable first-half miss, is an excellent choice for a striker partnership.
Liverpool welcome Leeds United to Anfield on Saturday night and it will be interesting to see if Klopp sticks to this new system. It won’t come as a surprise, especially if Thiago Alcantara doesn’t recover from an ear infection that kept him out last weekend and also this match, given the fact that Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota are on the sidelines.
Liverpool will take on Napoli at Anfield and now it will be a head-to-head clash to determine the group winner and Klopp will no doubt motivate his team as much as possible to go for it with everything they have. However, Napoli are fantasizing about their chances given the form they are in, even in front of a bouncing Anfield after crushing Liverpool in Italy in the first round.
Now it’s up to the German tactician to figure out how to deal effectively with the likes of Viktor Osimkhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, not to mention Piotr Zielinski, Hirving Lozano and other formidable names at Luciano Spalletti’s disposal.
As for Ajax, they now have every chance to continue their Europa League adventure and that could be a blessing in disguise if you look at it from the right angle. In previous seasons, the Dutch giants usually made it through the group stages, but they never had enough quality to take on some of the strongest teams in Europe. The Europa League, on the other hand, might just be within their confines, and if they manage not to lose to Rangers by more than four goals in the final round (and they most likely will), they’ll be looking to win for sure. that trophy.