Liverpool 1-0 Ajax: five talking points

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                                Liverpool a réservé une place en Ligue des champions 16 derniers avec une deuxième victoire 1-0 contre l'AFC Ajax dans le groupe D.
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                                                                <p>L'effort de Curtis Jones en deuxième mi-temps a séparé les équipes à Anfield mardi soir dans seulement leur quatrième affrontement compétitif de tous les temps.

Watch: Liverpool 1-0 Ajax – extended highlights

And the result meant the Reds couldn’t be caught at the top of the section and qualify as group winners with a game to go.

Here are five talking points from the clash with the Dutch side …

Kelleher shines on the European scene

Caoimhin Kelleher’s four first-team appearances for Liverpool before Tuesday night were in domestic cup competitions last season as he gained experience at the senior level.

Long a member of the squad under Jürgen Klopp, he actually won a Champions League winner’s medal as a squad member in Madrid 18 months before his European opportunity presented itself against Ajax.

The Cork-born stopper was tasked with making a leap to a much bigger stage when Alisson Becker missed the Group D game with a hamstring injury.

But you would never have guessed that the game was Kelleher’s Champions League debut given his performance of the evening – punctuated with calm, poise and a particularly crucial save.

With the Reds’ lead still vulnerable 1-0 in the 88th minute, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar looked like a certain goalscorer when he was picked in the middle of the box for a close range header.

Kelleher, however, produced a reaction stoppage at close range not only to deny the forward, but also to push the ball safely over the crossbar, negating Ajax’s late quest for an equalizer.

He made four total saves to help Liverpool record a fourth clean sheet in the competition this season and the third of their five outings for the club.

The fact that Klopp walked over to Kelleher with a beaming smile immediately after the full-time whistle summed up the impressive nature of the Irish Champions League arc.

” Skin. Skin, skin, skin, » said the boss of his post-match goalie. “I’m pretty sure he’ll sleep very well tonight or not at all, but he’ll enjoy both.” ”

Un gagnant made in Kirkby

After being used only as a substitute against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend following a minor fitness complaint, Jones was brought back in the XI against Ajax and scored his first Champions League goal .

The 58th minute winner was created by fellow Academy graduate Neco Williams, whose deep cross in the right flank was misjudged in flight by Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana and deftly cushioned in the open net by Jones.

It was the sixth strike from the senior midfielder – at the rate of one in every four games – and the culmination of another eye-catching performance from the Scouser, who has started eight of Liverpool’s 18 appearances this season and made part of the team every match day. .

At 19 years and 306 days old, he became the third youngest player to score for the club in the competition, after David Ngog and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Williams’ assist, meanwhile, was the most important contribution of his own confident display as the Welsh international displayed confidence on the ball and defensive diligence to stifle Ajax’s offensive threats.

The Reds’ youth base product pair in Kirkby also made history that night: it was the first time two teenagers had combined for a Champions League strike for Liverpool.

Hendo the conductor

Jordan Henderson returned to the starting XI for the first time since the Premier League’s meeting with Manchester City on November 8 and his vocal influence on the team could literally be heard.

The behind-the-scenes football highlighted how communicative the captain is throughout the 90 minutes as he demands, motivates, encourages and supports each of his teammates throughout the 90 minutes.

Henderson does what he asks, too – the No.14 led the team’s scoring for key passes (three), assists in the opposing half (30), crosses (four) and possession gains ( seven).

“No matter what 11 or 14, 15 or whatever happens to play in the game, they give absolutely everything,” he explained after the final whistle.

“We have some fantastic players, especially the young players tonight who once again showed the quality to get us all three points.

“Overall I’m really happy with the performance. I know it’s not our best performance but I feel like it was a real battle and everyone gave it their all until the 90th minute and you get your rewards, you get your three points. That’s why I’m really happy with it.

A game to spare

Klopp guided his side to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the fourth consecutive campaign.

The difference this year? There will be no bitten nails before and on Matchday 6 as the job is now done and dusted ahead of Liverpool’s last game of this phase, the trip to FC Midtjylland next Wednesday.

The Reds had previously left him until the last, demanding positive results against Spartak Moscow, Napoli and Salzburg in the final group matches of the previous three seasons.

But this time around, they can enjoy a stress-free trip to Denmark and perhaps the boss’s opportunity to rest and spin the players as Liverpool continue to defend their Premier League title.

Wolverhampton Wanderers visit Anfield and Klopp’s men travel to Fulham on either side of their clash with Midtjylland.

An eye on the last 16

The 1-1 draw between Atalanta BC and Midtjylland in Bergamo on Tuesday night meant that Liverpool’s victory not only secured a place in the round of 16 but clinched first place in Group D.

So the Reds know they’ll be matched with a runner-up from one of the other seven groups in the final 16, when the draw takes place on Monday, December 14.

It also means Klopp’s men will play the second leg of their knockout fixture at Anfield, with those games scheduled for February 15/16 and March 16/17.

FC Porto are already confirmed as one of seven potential opponents for Liverpool, who will not be able to draw any finalists in Group D or any other English club.

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