Ranking Liverpool's 5 best players against Inter Milan | UEFA Champions League 2021-22 Round of 16

FC Internazionale v Liverpool FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
FC Internazionale v Liverpool FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
Sushan Chakraborty

Liverpool extended their winning run in the Champions League with a clinical 2-0 triumph over Inter Milan in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash on Wednesday night.

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah each scored a goal in the second half to secure the Reds' seventh consecutive win in the Champions League this season.

Jurgen Klopp's side came into the match as favorites, courtesy of their perfect group stage run. But getting the job done at the San Siro was never going to be a straightforward affair.

In the early exchanges, the visitors struggled to get a foothold in the match and gave possession away cheaply. Inter thrived on the Reds’ hesitancy and got the first real chance of the match in the sixth minute. Unfortunately, their star striker Lautaro Martinez could not keep his effort on target.

The Merseyside giants responded with an attempt of their own, but Sadio Mane’s disappointing header failed to trouble Inter keeper Samir Handanovic. A couple of minutes later, Hakan Calhanoglu rattled the underside of the bar, which was by far the hosts' best chance of the half.

Chances were at a premium for the Reds in the opening minutes of the second half. Jurgen Klopp’s side were pegged back time and again by Inter’s determination, but the Premier League outfit's persistence ultimately paid off in the 75th minute.

Firmino’s glancing header gave the Merseysiders the lead before Salah’s sumptuous 83rd minute strike sealed a comfortable win.

Here are five Liverpool stars who helped them take a major step towards the Champions League quarter-finals with a win over Inter on Wednesday night:

#5 Ibrahima Konate

Liverpool v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Liverpool v Crystal Palace - Premier League

22-year-old Ibrahima Konate started alongside Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Reds’ defense on Wednesday night.

Despite not playing regularly since his move to Anfield from RB Leipzig last summer, Konate looked ice-cool at the back, rarely putting a foot wrong.

Colossal performance from Konate tonight 💪🔴

Konate had to be wary of the double threat of Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez on Wednesday night. He used his physicality to smother Martinez and awareness to nullify Dzeko's aerial threat.

In the 62nd minute, he stopped Dzeko from scoring from close range, putting his body in the way of the Bosnian’s right-footed effort.

He made four interceptions, one clearance and two tackles and gave three successful long balls out of four attempts. An excellent shift by the young centre-back.

#4 Roberto Firmino

FC Internazionale v Liverpool FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
FC Internazionale v Liverpool FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League

Diogo Jota got the nod to start at the San Siro on Wednesday night.

However, after the Portuguese twisted his ankle, Klopp decided to take the Portuguese off at half-time and bring on Roberto Firmino.

Roberto Firmino has now scored as many Champions League goals as Ronaldinho (18). 🤙Bobby & Ronnie. #UCL

Like magic, the Reds’ build-up play improved as they started getting more space inside the box and looked like a more cohesive side.

In the 75th minute, the Brazilian did what he was brought in to do, breaking the deadlock.

Latching on to Andy Robertson’s inch-perfect delivery from a corner, Firmino effortlessly guided his glancing header past Handanovic to give his side the lead.

#3 Mohamed Salah

FC Internazionale v Liverpool FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
FC Internazionale v Liverpool FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League

As is the norm these days, Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah was once again the man in focus on Wednesday night.

Courtesy of his performances over the last few years, we have come to expect great things from the Egyptian. Even with the slightest dip in his performance being noticed, every rough patch is dissected extensively.

Against Inter, Salah was not quite at his best, but his ability to deliver in clutch moments once again shone through. Alessandro Bastoni nullified his threat beautifully in the first half, rarely allowing him a sight of goal.

Salah's struggles continued in the second half, but that did not keep him from chipping away at the opposition.

Mohamed Salah has now scored in EIGHT consecutive #UCL away games:⚽ vs Atalanta⚽ vs Midtjylland ⚽ vs RB Leipzig ⚽ vs Real Madrid ⚽⚽ vs Porto⚽⚽ vs Atlético⚽ vs AC Milan⚽ vs Inter King of the Kop. King of the Road. 👑

Eight minutes after Firmino’s opener, Salah finally got the chance to put an end to his frustrations. Picking up the ball around the penalty spot, Salah hit it first time and saw it nestle into the back of the net.

The strike in his 50th Champions League appearance took his goal tally to 24 for the season in 29 games across competitions.

#2 Andy Robertson

Burnley v Liverpool - Premier League
Burnley v Liverpool - Premier League

Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson thrived on the left-flank against Inter Milan, going above and beyond to help his team. As always, he tirelessly chased every single ball and produced inch-perfect deliveries on cue.

In the first half, he delivered an excellent cross into the Inter box for Sadio Mane, but the Senegalese uncharacteristically failed to hit the target.

📊 | Andy Robertson vs Inter Milan:2 clearances2 interceptions1 tackle won100% dribbles completed100% long balls completed100% aerial duels won3 chances created1 big chance createdFull of life up and down the pitch. An energetic and efficient display.

Robertson did give the ball away cheaply on a few occasions, but he more than made amends for his mistakes by setting up Liverpool’s opener.

Taking a 75th-minute corner, the Scot delivered an inch-perfect curler inside the Inter box, which was met gracefully by Firmino to put the Reds ahead.

A moment of genius by the underrated full-back.

#1 Virgil van Dijk

FC Internazionale v Liverpool FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
FC Internazionale v Liverpool FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Diogo Jota have dominated the headlines for the Reds this season. Everyone has been raving about their goal threat but very few have focused on the rock-solid defensive shifts that Virgil van Dijk’s been putting in.

Last night, the Dutchman outshone his high-flying teammates, producing a performance to write home about.

Despite dealing with dual threats from Dzeko and Martinez, Van Dijk rarely looked flustered. He outsmarted Martinez in a one-on-one situation and outmuscled Dzeko more often than not.

The Netherlands international's pace also came in exceptionally handy and often discouraged Inter’s attackers to chase the ball.

Liverpool stat leaders against Inter:◉ Most clearances: Van Dijk◉ Most aerial duels won: Van Dijk ◉ Most interceptions: KonatéTheir record when playing together:WWDWDWWWWVirgil x Ibou is dominant. #UCL

He made seven clearances, three interceptions, won five of his seven ariel duels, gave seven accurate long balls out of eight attempts along with keeping an astonishing 94 percent passing accuracy.

Van Dijk also combined well with Konate and helped the 22-year-old put his best foot forward. The duo made sure nothing untoward happened and kept the hosts from registering even a single shot on target on Wednesday night.

Edited by Samya Majumdar


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