Liverpool 2-0 Midtjylland: Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah score in Reds win

    This was a game of chances. Very few chances to be precise. One fell to FC Midtjylland in the third minute and was wasted. Another fell to Liverpool’s Diogo Jota 50 minutes or so later and was taken.

    Mo Salah made the score respectable with a penalty in injury time but that really was the top and bottom of a desperately poor game that nevertheless yielded Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool the result they needed on a night when the German rested players and lost another one, the Brazilian defender Fabinho, to injury.

    It is not unusual for Liverpool to score with their first shot on target of the night. But it is not very often at all that it doesn’t arrive for almost an hour.

    But that is how poor and out of sync Klopp’s team were. With their front three starting the night on the bench, they were below strength and below par.

    The Danes could have scored almost immediately, Anders Dreyer freezing when the big moment came.

    After that it was largely all Liverpool but not until ten minutes in to the second half did they actually create a chance. It was a good goal, mind, and Jota scored it from close range.

    The last time Liverpool played European football here, in March, Anfield thrummed to the beat of a big night. Liverpool lost to Atletico Madrid but it was a recognisable occasion all the same.

    Here at ghostly Anfield on Tuesday night, the only sounds you could hear before kick-off were some premature November 5 fireworks going off on Stanley Park.

    By the end of the opening 45 minutes, Liverpool had not managed a shot on target. When was the last time that happened?

    With players rested and Klopp’s mood not helped by what looked like a muscle injury to emergency central defender Fabinho — young Rhys Williams was the Brazilian’s replacement — this was a scratchy Liverpool performance. Indeed the only real chance of the half fell to the Danes in only the third minute.

    To say Liverpool’s defence has looked vulnerable to runs in behind this season is to understate things.

    The only person who appears not to have recognised the problem is Klopp himself.

    Here the long pass came from visiting centre-half Alexander Schulz and the run from Anders Dreyer did not have to be that smart to beat what could not really be called an offside trap.

    Dreyer ran off Andrew Robertson’s shoulder into a huge space. Robertson and his nearest central defender Joe Gomez were not even in a straight line.

    And Dreyer really should have scored. Had he controlled the ball quickly he would have had ample time to beat Alisson.

    As it was, he looked a little shocked at the opportunity and by the time his shot arrived it was weak and kicked away by the Liverpool goalkeeper.

    With Liverpool’s usual front three rested there was opportunity for others.

    But one of the replacements, Takumi Minamino, failed to connect with a lovely Trent Alexander-Arnold cross in the 14th minute and when the right-back made his own way in to the box on the back of a direct run nine minutes later he chose to pass when a shot was called for.

    Some of the challenges from unfancied opposition were robust to say the least and three were booked early. Fabinho, though, merely seemed to pull up in mid-stride and that is never a good sign.

    Klopp was off down the tunnel quickly at half time and doubtless had some things to say. He made another change — Gini Wijnaldum for Jordan Henderson — but for a while not much changed. Still there was no fluency.

    But when the goal finally came it was at least a good one. Liverpool moved the ball left to right across the field and when Wijnaldum fed Alexander-Arnold, an exchange of passes with the hitherto anonymous Xherdan Shaqiri enabled the full-back to square the ball to Jota who scored from six yards at the Kop end.

    Klopp clearly felt there was more to do as immediately he replaced Minamino with Salah while Sadio Mane replaced Divock Origi. Both men who came off had struggled all night.

    Then, at the death, Dreyer ghosted through only to lift the ball in to the side netting. It was a huge moment as seconds later Salah was felled by Paulinho and stuck away the penalty.

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