Three records broken as Liverpool struggle to VAR-fraught Midtjylland draw

Date published: Wednesday 9th December 2020 7:58 - Jonny Whitfield

Alexander Scholz

Liverpool were denied a last-gasp winner as they rounded off their Champions League group stage campaign with a 1-1 draw against Midtjylland.

After a record-breaking start from Mohamed Salah, VAR was heavily involved in the second half to hand Midtjylland a penalty.

The video assistants then helped Liverpool out to deny the hosts a second, before a second for the visitors was also ruled out.

The Reds did not need to win in Denmark having already topped Group D. However, they looked intent on doing so right from the off, with Salah’s goal after 56 seconds.

The Egyptian’s scruffy touch in a challenge with Dion Cools was enough to poke the ball in for the club’s fastest-ever Champions League goal.

The strike also made Salah his club’s all-time leading scorer in the Champions League with 22 goals.

Mohamed Salah

Midtjylland had a brilliant chance to respond immediately, but Erik Sviatchenko’s header was over the bar.

Diogo Jota got the ball trapped under his feet and wasted a chance. Indeed, Salah continued to be Liverpool‘s most dangerous first-half player as he had two further shots saved by Jesper Hansen – one from an offside position.

Divock Origi completed Liverpool’s front line and had a great chance of his own. However, with time on his hands, he elected to try to curl Salah’s pass into the top corner instead of taking a touch.

Naby Keita and Jota further tested Hansen but despite their dominance, Midtjylland did have chances.

Indeed, Sory Kabah rose above Trent Alexander-Arnold and looked to be heading the ball in. However, Fabinho magnificently cleared his effort off the line.

Fabinho

After that, Awer Mabil snuck in – again on the left-hand-side of the box – but his shot was saved by Caoimhin Kelleher.

Midtjylland started brighter in the second half with a flurry of early chances. Brazilian midfielder Evander smashed the ball against the bar, before Kaba shot wide.

Kaba then got in again but his shot was blocked by Kostas Tsimikas. Amid the chances, though, Liverpool’s youngest-ever Champions League debutant Billy Koumetio stood tall in defence after replacing Fabinho at half time.

Midtjylland fight back with help of VAR

Midtjylland v Liverpool VAR

But Midtjylland got their reward for their endeavour with Alexander Scholz’s penalty. Anders Dreyer was deemed onside after the linesman had originally flagged when he latched onto a ball over the top.

But the move still went to VAR as, upon collecting the ball, Dreyer was clipped by the sprawling Kelleher and Scholz beat the yellow-carded goalkeeper.

Liverpool struggled to get out of their own half and so Klopp brought on some of his more senior stars. Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino all came on but they could not inspire an instant resurgance.

Indeed, it was Midtjylland who thought they had taken a 2-1 lead but VAR went Liverpool’s way this time. Scholz rifled the ball into the roof of the net from the second phase of a free kick but there was an offside as the ball was played in.

The Danish team continued to fight for a winner, with Sviatchenko’s header from a corner parried away by Kelleher.

Liverpool were then denied a last-gasp chance to snatch all three points. Sadio Mane had also come on to try and get a winner but he was adjudged to have handballed it in his knockdown before Takumi Minamino scored.

Ultimately, the result did not affect the standings in Group D and Liverpool return to action on Sunday with a Premier League clash against Fulham.

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