Liverpool secured a vital win thanks to Joel Matip’s late header against Ajax as Jurgen Klopp’s side beat Jurgen Klopp’s side 2-1 and claimed their first three points in the Champions League.
Accustomed to being one of the dominant forces in world football in recent years, Liverpool have failed to hit the mark so far this season and have looked a shadow of the side that reached last year’s final.
After a disappointing start to the Premier League season, Liverpool’s misery was compounded with a humiliating 4-1 defeat against Napoli on the opening day of the Champions League.
After that loss, Liverpool manager Klopp spoke of the team needing to “reinvent” themselves and Tuesday’s win certainly went towards that.
The performance was by no means vintage Liverpool, but some of the intensity, movement and sharp passing that made the team so feared was once again on display.
After Mo Salah’s opener put Liverpool 1-0 up, it looked like the home side were on course for a comfortable victory at Anfield, but not much has been comfortable for Liverpool this season.
10 minutes later, Ajax were level thanks to Mohammed Kudus’ superb strike into the top corner, which Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson made a complete stop.
In truth, Liverpool should have found the winner long before Matip’s 89th-minute header, but a combination of the keeper in front of goal and Ajax’s veteran stopper Remko Pasveer leveled the scores.
Before Matip’s goal, Ajax could have found a winner quite easily, but Daley Blind’s free header was horribly deflected onto the post.
In his post-match press conference, Klopp called the win “the first step” in Liverpool’s return to their old form, and said he had seen “a lot” of improvement since the Napoli defeat.
“I think if you put the two games, Napoli and tonight, next to each other, you probably don’t recognize that it’s the same sport,” he said, according to LFC.
“So completely different: the beginning was different, the middle was different, the end was different. The football we played, the way we defended, everything was different. Much more intensity, much more aggressiveness, more daring, ready.
“Like I said, everything was better. It was the first step, nothing more, but everything was fine.”
There was no such late joy for Tottenham in Lisbon as Antonio Conte’s side conceded two goals against Sporting to add a blip to an otherwise impressive start to the season.
Late goals from Paulinho and Arthur sealed a 2-0 victory and sent the José Alvalade Stadium wild as Sporting continued their perfect start to their Champions League campaign after beating Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 on the opening day.
English Sporting striker Marcus Edwards, a product of Tottenham’s academy, was a particular thorn in Spurs’ side throughout the game and almost scored the goal of the season in the first half after the 23-year-old ran through Spurs’ entire defence. .
Tottenham are one of only two teams in the Premier League to remain unbeaten domestically after six games, but despite the team’s effectiveness in picking up points, Conte’s side have so far failed to impress on the pitch.
Son Heung-min’s continued poor form, still without a goal this season, remains a concern, but Conte insisted Tuesday’s defeat was a close contest his side “didn’t deserve to lose”.
“The game in the first half was in the balance,” the Italian told Spurs’ media. “In the second half, we tried to push and had good scoring opportunities. Then, in the end, we are talking about a loss.
“We conceded a goal from a corner and, for sure, we can do much better. Then we conceded another goal two minutes later. We have to work on all these aspects, because the level of the Champions League is important, and we have to try to improve, because all the games are very difficult.
“The match against Marseille was difficult. Same today. Sure, in the end, we didn’t deserve to win, but at the same time, we didn’t deserve to lose.”