Not quite as exciting as the match in Maribor two weeks ago, Liverpool’s home match-up against the Slovenian champions went as many expected: with a comfortable, decisive win.
A boring first half preceded a comfortable second, with Mohamed Salah, Emre Çan, and Daniel Sturridge providing the goals after the interval.
Who were the three standout players, though?
We’ve had our say.
Salah broke the deadlock early in the second half, re-directing a lovely cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold past the Maribor goalkeeper, Handanovic.
The Egyptian was pugnacious in his pressing in the first half, but, along with the rest of the Liverpool XI, was stymied offensively by a determined Maribor low block. The second half was different; thanks to Salah’s early goal, as the Slovenian side were forced to play slightly more adventurously, allowing Liverpool to play with more freedom in between the lines.
Salah nearly added a second to his tally following a cross from the Alberto Moreno but was unable to direct his header on target from six yards out. The winger departed the match in the 74th minute for Daniel Sturridge, and a well-earned rest.
Can scored the second, and final, goal of the match after some good work in midfield, exchanging passes with James Milner at the top of the box before slotting home with his right peg from 17-yards out. That goal capped off an imperious display from the young German, who, despite often operating as the deepest midfielder, could frequently be found pressing Maribor’s goalkeeper.
Çan struck a good balance as the holding midfielder that Henderson has been unable to provide recently. Against a team like Maribor, it was unnecessary to constantly split the centre-backs and recycle the ball, so it was refreshing to see him urging his teammates forward with his play, despite the tepid nature of the first half.
Although Joe Gomez seems to have made the right full-back spot his own in the Premier League, Alexander-Arnold continues to put in excellent displays in Europe.
Despite the overall lethargy of the first half, Trent was one of the bright spots, constantly making himself available down the right flank and harrying Maribor’s left side.
Early in the second half, the Liverpool youth product whipped a fierce cross into Mohamed Salah, allowing the Egyptian to score his tenth goal for the Reds this season. Alexander-Arnold spent the rest of the second half in a similar fashion to the first; his boundless energy a constant outlet down the wing and his determined pressing an eternal source of displeasure for his opposing winger.