Anfield kid and Havard Nordtveit own goal both helped move Reds one step closer to a crack at conquering Europe
TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD marked his dream Champions League debut with his first Liverpool goal.
The local lad, 18, curled in a 35th-minute beauty to move his boyhood club one step closer towards a crack at conquering Europe.
Ironically, had wantaway Philippe Coutinho been involved in the Champions League play-off first leg, the young right-back would have had no chance in stepping up for the set piece.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were lucky not to be a goal down within 12 minutes when Dejan Lovren gave away a clumsy penalty after being nutmegged by ex-Arsenal ace Serge Gnabry.
Simon Mignolet saved Andrej Kramaric’s resulting spot-kick to redeem himself somewhat for his Watford horror show.
James Milner replaced Jordan Henderson on 63 minutes to take up a spot in midfield – an unfamiliar position for him these days.
And it was his 74th-minute cross from the left which bounced off Havard Nordtveit and into the Hoffenheim goal to double Liverpool’s lead.
Substitute Mark Uth grabbed what could be an important consolation for Hoffenheim in the 87th minute, plucking the ball down and pinging it past Mignolet.
Hero Alexander-Arnold was at fault for the goal as he hedged his bets trying to get the linesman to wave for offside instead of bursting back to try and tackle.
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- Liverpool made their first Champions League appearance since December 2014. But it was the Hoffenheim fans who were most excited, with a single flare being let off in the home stand before kick off.
- Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann is touted as the young pretender of German bosses. He definitely looked the part in a trendy white grandad collar shirt.
- Trent Alexander-Arnold’s Champions League debut began with a stunning 35th-minute free-kick – his first for the club.
- Ironically, had Philippe Coutinho been playing Alexander-Arnold would not have taken it.
- Any Arsenal fans watching may be wondering why they allowed Serge Gnabry to leave after nutmegging Dejan Lovren in the box and winning a penalty.
- Simon Mignolet made amends for his howler against Watford by saving the resulting spot-kick.
- Alberto Moreno proved yet again he is NOT a defender after being skinned time and time again on the left flank.
- James Milner came on for Jordan Henderson to play in midfield. Guess he is referred to as a “versatile full-back” these days.
- An off day for Sadio Mane amazingly means he did not score. This was one of those days, despite an impressive performance.
- As brilliant as Alexander-Arnold was, the youngster was at fault for Hoffenheim’s late goal after being caught out of position.
INTERACTIVE STATS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
Liverpool: Mignolet 8, Alexander-Arnold 8, Matip 7, Lovren 6, Moreno 7, Henderson 7 (Milner 6), Can 7, Wijnaldum 6, Salah 6, Mane 7 (Grujic 6), Firmino 7 (Solanke 6).
Hoffenheim: Baumann 7, Bicakcic 6 (Nordtveit 6), Vogt 6, Hubner 6, Kaderabek 6, Rupp 6 (Amiri 6), Demirbay 7, Wagner 6, Zuber 6, Kramaric 6, Gnabry 6 (Uth 6).
WHAT THEY SAID
Alexander-Arnold: “It’s a thing of dreams to make your European debut for your boyhood club and especially to mark it with a goal.
“I got egged on to do it [take the free-kick]. I never put my hand up but I had the confidence to take it.”
Henderson on Alexander-Arnold: “He was outstanding last season and he’s come back and gone up another level.
“He’s been doing free-kicks like that in training every day and he’s done it again on the big stage.”
Klopp: “To concede like this, I don’t want to concede like this. In extra time because our little hero had his arm up! but that’s okay, I prefer the result 2-1.
“I think we gambled too much on the wing so left Trent a few times alone but he did brilliant and came through.”
He added: “He [Alexander-Arnold] only plays because he is good.
“He has to improve in pretty much all parts of the game. Offensively he is nice to watch and defensively he was good, but of course the challenge – that is where he has to improve.
“He needs a long ice bath, warm bed and recovery.”