That was uncharacteristic of Liverpool. Not that they were poor or outplayed; but sitting on one-goal lead for most part of the game and scoring a late winning goal, again, bring the attitude of Klopp’s men into focus.
The job was barely done at halftime, thanks to a superb header by Daniel Sturridge from a perfect Robertson’s cross and the energetic James Millner who stepped up to double the advantage from the penalty spot after Benart clumsily challenged Georgino Wijnaldum.
Even after a swift response by Thomas Munier for PSG five minutes before halftime, Liverpool held the advantage and from the backdrop of an end-to-end first-half display, everyone had to readjust their seat for a more pulsating second half, especially from the Reds. It didn’t matter the opponent was PSG, Anfield has hosted more delirious opponents and they didn’t get close.
It wasn’t going to come that way, rather than show hunger and finish off what they started, as usual, Jurgen Klopp’s men looked comfortable with the 2-1 lead and when everything suddenly became dark, they one-eyed Roberto Firminho scored the match-winner for the Reds with a blinding finish.
Every ball that didn’t get into the back of the net before the breakthrough could and would be pardoned. But if Mbappe’s goal was the last of the game, the inability of Sturridge, Salah and Mane to be more precise and decisive in front of goal won’t have been forgiven.
It won’t be worse than the Karius horror, but losing points in such group of death is a luxury the Reds cannot afford if they want to match their army into another Champions League final. This time, it would be harder to find any member of the front three culpable for holding the team back.
Perhaps, due to the lack of ruthlessness in Liverpool, the Parisians would have run away with a point. But by all means and the difference individual players made, it was a deserved win for the Reds. Thomas Tuchel might be right about the mental ability of his team but he was wrong about the scoreline.
“Maybe the score didn’t tell the story of the game. We had a chance with Draxler to win the game. The result is not logical or correct. We played with a lot of bravery and mental strength.” the former Dortmund coach said at the post-match interview.
One thing was clear from the onset, the game won’t be left to the front three on either side to decide, even though it was dubbed their battle; and that’s where Liverpool made the difference. Evidently, only two of them (Mbappe and Firminho) were able to register their names on the score sheet in a game that produced five goals.
Stating the obvious is saying the impacts of Milner/Di Maria, Neymar/Mane, Sturridge/Cavani, Wijnadum/Marquios were contrasting. Collectively, Liverpool also had much to do than their opponents.
James Milner, at 32 isn’t showing any sign of slowing down as he stood out for the Reds. The Englishman, as usual, offered much in attack and defence for Liverpool and made no mistake when he was trusted with penalty duties again.
Besides, the inclusion of Daniel Sturridge in place of Firminho in the starting line up showed how much the German can bank on the striker during busy schedules.
From their daunting pack of fixtures in September, it’s two out of two with three more to come for the Reds.
By and large, they have taken the first step towards barring last year’s nightmare in Kiev.