Liverpool got their UEFA Champions League campaign up and running with a 1-0 victory against Ajax at the Johan Cruff Arena. The Reds secured a hard-fought victory by a solitary goal, as Sadio Mane's effort was turned into his own net by Ajax defender Nicolas Tagliafico.
While Jurgen Klopp opted to start with the feared front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, the trio were withdrawn around the 60th-minute mark. Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri replaced them, as they were tasked with making up the ground and putting the home side under pressure.
Liverpool saw off the game comfortably, as the three substitutes made an impact and gave the Reds some fresh legs. Speaking after the game, Klopp admitted that it was an intense game for his first-choice attackers.
“You could see it was an intense game for the three up front."
“It was hard for the starting front three, and I was really happy we could do that (replace them)."
“I was not in doubt about the quality of the boys (who came on). The game was pretty wild and we defended all together."
“We were defending 4-5-1 and both wingers needed to be really involved in the defending. The moment you win the ball, then there are big spaces for counter-attacks, and we thought it made sense to bring on fresh legs."
Diogo Jota enjoying impressive start to his Liverpool career
Jota, in particular, delivered another eye-catching display with his direct running and energy, as the Portuguese star continues to make an impression early in his Liverpool career. Minamino and Shaqiri were also involved in a few important moments, as they pressed the opposition defenders high up the pitch.
“All three who came on are in really good shape, they all really helped a lot."
“Shaq won deflections, which was pretty special! Taki in both directions was incredible between the lines and Diogo is a machine, he can do a lot of punishing of opponents in one-on-one situations."
“We didn’t finish them off unfortunately.”
Liverpool face Sheffield United in the Premier League next and it remains to be seen if Klopp opts to tinker with his preferred attacking lineup this weekend.
Published 22 Oct 2020, 17:39 IST