Liverpool returned to winning ways by defeating Rangers 2-0 at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday (October 4).Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah got on the scoresheet as the Reds outplayed their Scottish opponents across all areas of the pitch.
Jurgen Klopp made a few tactical and personnel changes following a worrying 3-3 draw in the Premier League against Brighton & Hove Albion over the weekend.The team switched to what looked like a 4-2-3-1 formation from their traditional 4-3-3. Fabinho was dropped for Diogo Jota, who played as a 10 with Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara operating in a double pivot. Fabio Carvalho also took a spot on the bench, with Darwin Nunez starting as the lone striker.Nunez got Liverpool’s first chance of the match in the first few minutes, forcing a good save from Allan McGregor. The Reds got the opportunity to go ahead in the seventh minute following a foul close to the box.Alexander-Arnold stepped up to score a sumptuous free-kick that fizzed into the far post and gave the hosts an early lead.
Nunez continued to wreak havoc for Rangers by repeatedly running into the gaps behind the opponents’ backline. However, a mixture of poor finishing and some great saves from McGregor forced the hosts to settle for a one-goal lead at the half-time interval.In the 52nd minute, Luis Diaz was brought down in the box by centre-back Leon King, gifting Liverpool the chance to consolidate their advantage. Salah converted the spot-kick for his second Champions League goal of the season to give the Reds a 2-0 lead.McGregor was kept busy after that as well, notably tipping Jota’s excellent strike over the crossbar. Rangers’ attack, meanwhile, didn’t come to life until the closing stages as they forced a couple of interventions from Alisson Becker.
Overall, it was a comfortable victory for Liverpool, who have recovered from their 4-1 loss at S.S.C. Napoli on Matchday 1 to win their next two Champions League matches. They are now second in Group A, while Rangers remain last with no points to their name.
Here are the player ratings for the Reds from their win on Tuesday night:
Alisson Becker – 7/10
Alisson made a couple of great saves at the end of the game after being undisturbed for most of the match.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9/10
Alexander-Arnold’s exquisite free-kick must have shot up his confidence after being at the receiving end of relentless criticism over the past few weeks. His offensive quality was on show throughout as he recorded a key pass and six accurate long balls.
The Englishman also made four tackles, though he wasn’t troubled much by the Rangers attack.
Joel Matip – 7/10
Matip provided defensive solidity and also helped the Reds move the ball up the field. The centre-back made three tackles and an interception, and combined well with Van Dijk to protect his side’s cleansheet.
Virgil van Dijk – 7/10
Van Dijk was dominant defensively, recording a clearance, a block and an interception. He was also a threat on the other end of the pitch, receiving two opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net, which he failed to do.
Kostas Tsimikas – 7.5/10
Acting as a deputy to the consistent Andy Robertson is never easy, but Tsimikas has largely done well in that role and put in a solid display against Rangers. He provided three key passes and also did what was required off him on the left side of Liverpool’s defense.
Jordan Henderson – 8/10
Henderson kept the tempo of the game flowing with quick passes and diagonals to Luis Diaz or Mohamed Salah on the wings that stretched the Rangers defense. He misplaced just four of his 62 passes, laid out two key passes and completed five of his long-ball attempts in one of his best displays of the season so far.
Thiago Alcantara – 6.5/10
Thiago had an average game by his lofty standards. The Spaniard completed 87% of his passes, but couldn’t provide the same sparks of creativity that Liverpool fans have come to expect of him. He was eventually replaced by James Milner in the second half.
Luis Diaz – 7.5/10
Diaz won a penalty in the second half after a superb dribble into the penalty box before being brought down by Leon King. He was lively throughout the game, recording a shot on target, two successful dribbles and six successful duels.
Diogo Jota – 7/10
Jota didn’t have the best of games playing in the hole behind Nunez, but showed that he could take a leap to aid Liverpool’s glaring creativity issues. He was adventurous with his passing, laying out a team-high four key passes, despite completing only 77% of his total pass attempts.
Mohamed Salah – 8/10
Salah linked up well with Nunez across both halves and also got the goal that effectively sealed the game from the penalty spot in the second half. The Egyptian troubled Rangers full-back Borna Barisic throughout. Liverpool will hope this game is the start of Salah’s return to form after a slow start to the campaign.
Darwin Nunez – 6.5/10
Nunez made some superb runs in behind the Rangers defense and caused them all kinds of problems by linking up well with Salah. However, his final touch and finishing let him down on multiple occasions.
The Uruguayan missed one big chance and got only one of his four shots on target. Nevertheless, Nunez’s performance had plenty of positives and he will look to build on it after a tough start to his time at Anfield.
Fabinho – 7/10
Fabinho came on for Henderson in the 70th minute and was a calm presence in the middle of the park. He made two tackles and won both his ground duels to help shield Liverpool’s defense.
Roberto Firmino – 7/10
Firmino replaced Jota in the 69th minute and dropped deep to help supply Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah. The Brazilian recorded a key pass in his short period on the pitch.
James Milner – 6/10
Milner came on for Thiago in the 81st minute and slowed the game down to help the Reds see out the victory and clinch a clean sheet. He completed all of his nine pass attempts, while winning a ground duel and a tackle.
Harvey Elliott – 6/10
Elliott has been one of Liverpool’s better players this season but struggled to make much of an impression after coming on for Nunez with 10 minutes to play. He didn’t get forward frequently enough, but still recorded a key pass and two accurate long balls in his time on the pitch.
Joe Gomez – N/A
The defender came on for Alexander-Arnold with in the final seconds of regulation time to help Liverpool see out the game.