Liverpool’s Joel Matip scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute of Tuesday’s Champions League Group A encounter against Ajax Amsterdam at Anfield. The final score was 2-1 in favour of the runner-up from last season.
The team coached by Juergen Klopp had lost their initial group game 4-1 against Napoli. It was headed for another disastrous outcome until the centre defender rose to meet a corner that seemed to be cleared off the line, but the assistant referee raised his flag to signal a goal.
The English squad showed an increased effort, although it was still far below their best.
Mohamed Salah gave the home team the lead in the 17th minute after being set up by Diogo Jota, beating Ajax goalkeeper Remko Pasveer with a spectacular finish.
The advantage, however, lasted just ten minutes when Ajax equalised with a fantastic goal from Mohammed Kudus, who created space for himself in the area and then blasted the ball into the top corner.
Liverpool reacted strongly to the setback, with Virgil van Dijk forcing Pasveer into action in the 35th minute with a powerful header from a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner.
Alexander-Arnold then came near himself, rushing into the inside-right channel, cutting inside onto his left foot, and shooting straight at Pasveer’s chest before the Ajax goalkeeper reacted superbly to block the follow-up attempt.
Ajax defender Daley Blind had a golden opportunity to put the Dutch team ahead when he was left unmarked at the back post but missed the target with his header.
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In the 83rd minute, Nunez should have won the game for Liverpool when Salah sent him in, but the Uruguayan forward scuffed his shot from a beautiful position inside the box.
Salah’s deflected shot hit the post, and from the resultant Kostas Tsimikas corner kick, Matip scored the game-winning goal.
After a tough start to the season and catastrophic performance in Naples, Liverpool will be happy merely to have secured the three points.
“It is a first step, a very important step,” said Klopp.
“I think everybody could see that we understood and that we had to put in a completely different shift (to Naples). The boys did that. We played a lot of good stuff against a hard-fighting opposition. Scored the first goal and should’ve scored more goals, from set pieces especially,” he said.