Ibrahima Konate turned up the heat on Joel Matip with his best Liverpool display yet, while Roberto Firmino proved he’s not yesterday’s man with a vital contribution in a 2-0 win at Inter Milan.
Liverpool dominated the early going, but it was Inter who crafted the best chance in the opening 15 minutes. Ivan Perisic broke free down the left and found Hakan Calhanoglu inside the area. The Turkey international controlled and spun, but fired his effort onto the crossbar.
The hosts quickly established a foothold and battled the Reds at their own game for much of the first half. The possession stakes were split roughly 50/50 at half-time with the Italians on top in the duels department.
Liverpool weathered the Inter storm after the break, with Jurgen Klopp steadying the ship with a triple change on the hour mark. That proved an inspired decision, with Liverpool biding their time before grabbing a crucial goal when Roberto Firmino headed Andy Robertson’s corner home.
Liverpool’s ability to hang in there in tough conditions was rewarded late on when Mohamed Salah put Liverpool two up. However, it was Liverpool’s defenders that earned the highest marks in a hotly-contested Champions League tie.
Alisson Becker: A touch lax when playing out from the back on occasion. Twice his dangerous passes played Liverpool into trouble inside the first half hour, but Inter couldn’t capitalise. 6/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Went close with a whipped free-kick, but denied his usual threat by a spirited and well-drilled Inter display. Forced to do more defending than he’s accustomed to with Inter giving as good as they got. Could’ve grabbed an assist for Luis Diaz on a rare foray forward after the hour mark. 7
Ibrahima Konate: Chosen ahead of Joel Matip and quickly set about proving Klopp right. Let Martinez and Dzeko know he was around when snapping into early tackles. Typically strong in the air, winning virtually everything Inter lumped forward. Vital interception to prevent a certain goal when cutting out Dumfries’ cross to Dzeko with Liverpool’s defence in full retreat.
Continued his stellar evening with more crucial moments to keep Inter at bay long enough for the forwards to strike late on. His best performance in a Liverpool shirt. 9
Virgil van Dijk: A calming influence in the first half with Klopp recently claiming the Dutchman is now back to his best. A constant vocal presence when marshalling those around him and helping to set the offside trap. Snuffed out what could’ve been dangerous moments when one-v-one against Dzeko and Martinez prior to the break.
A series of crucial interceptions after half time when Inter threatened to take control of the tie. If there were still doubts as to whether Van Dijk is the defender he was prior to his injury, tonight’s showing laid them to rest. 9 (Man of the match)
Andrew Robertson: Trademark delivery from the dead ball to tee up a header Mane should’ve tested Handanovic with. Forced further back than he would’ve liked with his midfield struggling to dominate the ball. Held up well defensively and bagged an assist when his pinpoint corner was expertly glanced home by Firmino. 8
Roberto Firmino with the perfect glanced header 👌
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Harvey Elliott: Tremendous show of faith from Klopp to hand the teenager his Champions League debut in the cauldron of the San Siro. Given an early warning when allowing his man Calhanoglu to run free before rattling the bar. Had a glorious opportunity to find the unmarked Salah at the far post with Inter caught short, but under-hit his pass.
Settled in and began to play a more integral role in midfield, but it was never easy against Calhanoglu, Brozovic and Vidal. Substituted for Keita on the hour mark in what was something of a baptism of fire in Europe’s top competition. 6
Fabinho: Given a tougher test than he might’ve expected with the possession stakes split 50/50 in the first half. Lost more duels than Reds fans are accustomed to seeing, but that was down to Inter giving as good as they got in the central areas. Replaced by Henderson for the final half hour. 6
Thiago Alcantara: Exquisite vision on display from the get go when putting Salah one-v-one against Bastoni. But didn’t have the controlling impact Klopp would’ve hoped for against a lively Inter midfield. 6
Mohamed Salah: Got in behind Perisic on multiple occasions but drove into traffic infield too often. Surprisingly quiet after a bright start with his threat largely snuffed out. However, keeping the Egyptian quiet for a full 90 minutes is near-impossible, and Salah duly grabbed Liverpool’s second when Inter failed to clear their lines late on. 7
Klopp warns Salah, Mane and Diaz of high standards
Jurgen Klopp warns Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz over high standards at Liverpool
Diogo Jota: Tried to press Inter’s backline into a mistake and posed a threat when running with the ball, but constantly buffeted and manoeuvred out of danger. Replaced by Firmino at the break as Klopp sought a silkier touch, with the German revealing post-match he suffered an ankle injury. 6
Sadio Mane: Superb chance inside quarter of an hour when heading Robertson’s free-kick narrowly over. His anguished reaction suggested he knew he should’ve done better. Saw an acrobatic effort from close range shinned into the side netting in another near miss for the Senegalese. Gave it his all as he always does, but sacrificed for Diaz with his recent AFCON exertions clearly a factor. 6
Roberto Firmino (On for Jota, 46m): Bagged a hugely important goal when showing his class with a glanced header just beyond the reach of Handanovic. 8
Jordan Henderson (On for Fabinho, 59m): Brought on to refresh the midfield when Inter were in the ascendancy. Did what was required when it was required – as he so often does. 6
Naby Keita (On for Eliott, 59m): Helped stem the tide and laid the foundation for Liverpool to strike late on. 6
Luis Diaz (On for Mane, 59m): Denied an instant impact when seeing his shot blocked after neat interplay with Alexander-Arnold. Livened up Liverpool’s attack and posed Inter’s centre-backs problems with his direct running. 7
James Milner (On for Thiago, 85m): N/A