Liverpool vs Ajax: Matip plays Anfield hero in 89th minute

·7 min read

Joel Matip’s 89th-minute goal saved Jurgen Klopp blushes as Liverpool rebounded from a brutal start to the UEFA Champions League group stage to beat Ajax 2-1 at Anfield on Tuesday.

Mohamed Salah put the Reds ahead but Mohammed Kadus leveled the line and both sides missed several chances to claim an advantage until Matip’s header crossed the goal line and was recognized by the Goal Decision System.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were in danger of starting the UEFA Champions League group stage in very poor fashion after being smashed 4-1 at Napoli in their Group A opener last time out, while Ajax had smashed Glasgow Rangers.

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After Premier League games were postponed at the weekend as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Liverpool held talks with UEFA about hosting the clash at Anfield versus Ajax and it has been given the green light.

Liverpool held a minute’s silence before and players wore black armbands as a mark of respect for Queen Elizabeth II. Their game at Chelsea on Sunday has been postponed due to events around The Queen’s Funeral taking place in London on Monday.

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Virgil van Dijk reaction: Ex-players tried to get us down but we didn’t listen

“It was very important to show a positive reaction. It’s not easy to turn it around, but it is a step in the right direction,” Van Dijk said, later adding, “We are not listening to the outside world. A lot of ex-football players know what we go through. They say a lot to put us down, but we know the last game was unacceptable and this was a step in the right direction.”

Jurgen Klopp reaction: Good bounce back from Napoli loss

“Everybody could see that we understood that we had to put a completely different shift. We played a lot of good stuff against a really hard-fighting opponent.

“Incredible strike from Kudus. In the last moments we could’ve defended better. It’s like another test, if you want. Everybody’s hoping it just goes in the right direction and you get the setback and you could see the impact of that. The pressing before their goal was much better than after their goal and we only talk about a yard or two in these moments. If we press, we have to do it right. So halftime 1-1 and it was clear we had to go back to how we started because it was intense for Ajax, too.”

“Nothing is over, either negative nor positive. It is a first step, a very important step for us and now we have a strange break, pretty long.”

Liverpool vs Ajax
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 13: (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

How to watch Liverpool vs Ajax live, updates and start time

Date: Tuesday, September 13
Kick off time: 3pm ET
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

Key storylines

Liverpool’s defensive issues were laid bare at Napoli last week, as they were 4-0 down and it could have been worse for Jurgen Klopp’s side. Their high defensive line just isn’t working as Virgil van Dijk isn’t playing anywhere near his best and a huge number of injuries, especially to midfielders, is making matters worse for the Reds. Liverpool have won just two of their seven games in all competitions to start the season and with Mohamed Salah also scoring just twice so far, plus Darwin Nunez taking time to settle, there is concern that Liverpool may get stuck in this rut. Klopp’s reaction to the heavy defeat at Napoli was telling, as he suggested Liverpool may need to ‘reinvent themselves’ to snap themselves out of this. He has also revealed that Liverpool’s staff and players have spent hours dissecting the loss to Napoli and have been honest with how they can rectify their recent mistakes.

Ajax will look to take full advantage of Liverpool’s current malaise as Dusan Tadic continues to captain the side and create problems galore with his clever flicks and passes. Add in their brilliant display of forward running and high-pressing against Rangers and this is exactly the type of team Liverpool don’t want to face right now. The reigning Dutch champions have made a habit of causing upsets in the Champions League and going on deep runs in the competition in recent seasons. Despite being drawn into a very tough group, it feels like another run is brewing.

Liverpool vs Ajax head to head record

Liverpool faced Ajax in the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League group stage and won both games 1-0. The only other time they’ve played each other in European competition was in this competition in 1966, as Johann Cruyff inspired a 5-1 win in Amsterdam in the first leg, as a 2-2 draw at Anfield in the second leg led to a 7-3 aggregate win for Ajax over Liverpool. Ajax would go on to lose 3-2 to Dukla Prague in the quarterfinals of the 1966-67 European Cup, who then lost to eventual winners Celtic at the semifinal stage.

The lowdown on Ajax

Focusing on Ajax, well, they’ve sold so many star players (mostly to Manchester United) once again, and lost their manager Erik ten Hag to United, but they just keep on trucking. This summer new Ajax boss Alfred Schreuder saw his squad lose center back Lisandro Martinez and his best winger, Anthony, to United, plus Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui left for Bayern Munich, Andre Onana went to Inter Milan, Nicolas Tagliafico to Lyon and Sebastian Haller to Borussia Dortmund. And after generating close to $220 million in player sales, Ajax seem to have done some brilliant business in the transfer window.

Calvin Bassey has been a revelation in defense, while Steven Bergwijn adds class in attack, the dangerous Brian Brobbey has returned from Leipzig and Lucas Ocampos is a fine addition from Sevilla. This Ajax side has a great blend of youth and experience and they will press Liverpool high up the pitch and force plenty of mistakes. Mexico midfielder Edson Alvarez will perhaps be the next star to leave Ajax and Liverpool would love to have the midfield solidity he brings. Ajax have a perfect record of six wins from six in the Eredivisie and sit top of the table.

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup

Before their home game against Wolves was postponed, below is the list of injuries Liverpool had. It seems like Carvalho could return to fitness for this clash, while it is intriguing to see Klopp starts with Salah, Jota and Diaz in attack with Nunez on the bench. Andy Robertson is out with a knee injury for a few weeks, so Kostas Tsimikas starts at left back.

OUT: Ibrahima Konate (knee), Jordan Henderson (thigh), Naby Keita (undisclosed), Curtis Jones (calf), Calvin Ramsay (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring), Caoimhin Kelleher (groin)

Liverpool vs Ajax: Matip plays Anfield hero in 89th minute originally appeared on NBCSports.com