Log Leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool collected another win in their relentless campaign by sneaking past Genk at a subdued Anfield.
Jürgen Klopp’s side lost to Napoli in their opening Group E game – their only loss in any competition this season – but have picked up three straight wins to move towards the knockout stages.
Georginio Wijnaldum stabbed into the roof of the net from close range after captain Sebastian Dewaest made a mess of clearing James Milner’s low cross.
With the hosts failing to build on their 14th-minute lead, Genk’s Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta powerfully headed in the equaliser at the near post from a corner five minutes before half-time.
But having scored twice in Belgium when Genk were beaten 4-1 on 23 October, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the match-winner early in the second half, spinning and converting a low strike into the bottom corner.
Liverpool moves top of the group ahead of Serie A side Napoli, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Red Bull Salzburg.
Liverpool ultimately edged this test against Genk but know their sternest challenge of the season will come on Sunday against Premier League champions Manchester City.
With that huge clash in mind, Klopp decided to rest some first-team regulars, including captain Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Andy Robertson.
Despite the victory, Liverpool’s biggest concern will be a lack of clean sheets – now just one in their past nine games in all competitions – given that their defence provided such a solid base last season as they agonisingly missed out on the title to City, but became champions of Europe for the sixth time.
The Reds lacked their usual fluency and zip at times, and that seemed to permeate into the stands, as the usual fiery Anfield Champions League cauldron was lukewarm for large periods, sporadically bursting into life and after both goals.
The hosts dominated the ball with 72% possession and fired off 28 shots – with Mohamed Salah’s low drive from an angle and curling effort both struck wide.
Divock Origi, who scored decisive goals in the semi-final and final for Liverpool last season, dragged a shot off target, while his low, skipping drive was pushed away by 21-year-old goalkeeper Gaetan Coucke at full stretch.
After Oxlade-Chamberlain had made it 2-1, Genk could have equalised for a second time late on, but Bryan Heynen’s thumping effort was pushed away by Alisson, extending their run without a victory in the Champions League proper to 16 games – a competition record.
In Other News – Chelsea comes from behind to Draw with Ajax 4-4
Chelsea came back from 4-1 down to draw a Champions League thriller against an Ajax side who had two men sent off. Tammy Abraham scored an early own goal, Jorginho equalised with a penalty but Quincy Promes then headed Ajax ahead.
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s own goal and Donny van de Beek’s low strike gave Ajax a three-goal lead at Stamford Bridge.
Cesar Azpilicueta pulled one back, Ajax had Daley Blind and Joel Veltman sent off before Jorginho’s second penalty and Reece James’ effort made it 4-4. VAR might come into the spotlight in this match as many decisions seemed amiss especially those 2 red cards.
Chelsea thought they had grabbed a sensational victory when Azpilicueta smashed a loose ball into the net but the goal was ruled out after a video assistant referee review showed the ball had struck Abraham’s arm before falling for the Chelsea captain. continue reading