Liverpool won the tenth of their last 13 away games in the Champions League. With more authority than good play, he took the victory against Inter after Jürgen Klopp corrected his line-up. There where he put the beardless Elliot – at 18, the debutant Red youngest in the highest continental competition—the coach replaced captain Henderson, and if he had placed Jota at the top of the attack, he corrected himself by giving the handle to the old Firmino after the break.
S. Handanovic, Alessandro Bastoni (Dimarco, min. 90), de Vrij (Ranocchia, min. 86), Skriniar, Vidal (Gagliardini, min. 86), Perisic, Brozovic, Denzel Dumfries (Darmian, min. 86), Calhanoglu , Lautaro Martínez (Alexis, min. 69) and Dzeko
Alisson, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, A. Robertson, Harvey Elliot (Naby Keita, min. 58), Fabinho (Henderson, min. 59), Thiago (Milner, min. 85), Salah, Mane (Luis Díaz, min. 58) and Diogo Jota (Roberto Firmino, min. 45)
goals 0-1 min. 74: Roberto Firmino. 0-2 minutes 82: Bad.
Referee Szymon Marciniak
Even the most judicious coaches devote days to arbitrariness or hunch. Klopp had one of those days in Milan. He expressed it in the lineup, selecting Diogo Jota instead of Firmino. The 25-year-old striker versus the 30-year-old. It is not known where Jota’s tremendous prestige comes from, but compared to Firmino he lacks several degrees of mental penetration. There where the false nine Brazilian sees passing lines, the boisterous Jota glimpses darkness. And in the dark Liverpool moved for 45 minutes, until Klopp removed Jota from the field and put Firmino in an attempt to dominate a crushing rival who barely allowed himself to be finished off.
Liverpool’s last visit to the San Siro, last December, echoed in the memory of Italian fans. That comfortable victory against Milan (1-2), in charge of a starting team with nine substitutes, left an impression of inaccessible superiority of the Premier over Serie A. The return of Liverpool to face the local league leader aroused a claiming sentiment in the contours of the powerful Italian football industry, in need of a publicity hit. The staging was convincing. At least it was effective against this Liverpool that came with Mané and Salah filtered by the transfer of the African Cup and with the teenager Elliot as a great novelty.
Elliot is a typically British media and football phenomenon. His passion, the same as the passion of the nation that sustains him, accelerates all transits in a dazzling way. He was the youngest in history to debut with Fulham, at 15 years old; he was the youngest to debut for Liverpool, at 16; and he broke another record in the Champions League that everyone will remember for many things but not for his impact on the pitch. Klopp recently revealed his admiration for the boy: “His greatest talent lies in the fact that he is always mentally prepared.” Elliot’s head was ready for San Siro. His feet, after a long injury, were still cold. For Brozovic it was a favor. The Croatian midfielder was in charge of getting him out of his place. He was quick to miss passes that helped break Liverpool’s fearsome chain of circulation.
Inter on the rise
Inter confirmed that it is among the growing teams. It thrives on putting into practice all those routine activities that sustain—and then raise—the level of workforces lacking top-notch talent. Full attention, continuity in movements, discipline to press as well as to play two touches in an order in which everyone is offered, and a simple attacking program. All very suitable for limited footballers. Every time Inter got the ball back, usually on their own half, they maneuvered in the flattest way in the manual: long balls to the nine —Dzeko— or the lanes —Perisic and Dumfries—, and if the nine he was thrown into an even better lane. Inzaghi’s intention to exploit the raises of Robertson and Alexander-Arnold was evident. Very few times did he achieve it with more results than a center to nothing and when Dzeko and Lautaro managed to break into space they had to deal with Van Dijk, who caught up with them and disarmed them with the authority of a marshal. Alisson didn’t make a single stop all night. Neither did Handanovic, but he was shot twice between the three posts. The 0-1 shot carried the subtle signature of Firmino.
The striker headed a corner at the near post with the crown of his head. He got ahead of Bastoni, bent his neck, and raised his chin giving the ball just the right direction. It was the 75th minute and it was the coup de grâce. Inter were so stunned that less than ten minutes later they were allowed to win a split ball from a free kick. Salah sent it online to the chagrin of the local players, who from the language of their gestures seem to have imagined with disgust the tortuous journey that awaits them at Anfield.
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