Take a different look at the win that sealed Liverpool's spot in the last 16 of the Champions League with Inside Anfield.
The Reds overcame AFC Ajax 1-0 on Tuesday night and have secured their place in the first knockout round with a match to spare.
Curtis Jones got the goal while Caoimhin Kelleher made several superb saves during an impressive European debut.
Watch how the evening unfolded from a fresh point of view above. Simply register for free if you have not already done so.
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Highlights of Liverpool U18s' 4-1 win over Burnley at the Academy on Tuesday night are now available to watch on LFCTV GO.
The victory took Marc Bridge-Wilkinson's side top of the U18s Premier League North.
Oakley Cannonier fired the opening goal before Billy Koumetio made it 2-0 with a header from a corner.
Superb pressing from James Balagizi paved the way for Mateusz Musialowski to grab the third goal.
U16 forward Ethan Ennis made it 4-0 following a brilliant cross from Sean Wilson before Burnley pulled a late consolation goal back.
Click play above to watch highlights of the game via LFCTV GO.
A narrow scoreline in a game where there was much to enjoy. If a European Super League does eventually become a reality, then regular games against Ajax will be a welcome side effect.
This is how I’d imagine a game of football would have looked if the directors of The Matrix had crowbarred a football scene into one of the offerings from the Keanu Reeves-led movie franchise.
Beyond the joy of progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League, topping the group with a game to spare within the process, the biggest pluses to Tuesday night were the boys-becoming-men performances of Caoimhin Kelleher, Neco Williams and Curtis Jones.
An understandable sharp intake of breath could be heard across the red half of Merseyside when news of Alisson’s latest injury setback emerged.
Hopes that it was no more than a malicious rumour eventually dashed, it was a surprise to see Kelleher named as the Brazilian’s replacement, rather than Adrian.
As things turned out, it was to be a pleasant surprise, as Cork’s finest put in a magnificently assured and confident display, pulling off a collection of impressive saves, competent handling, fine positioning and intelligent covering of his defence when the line was held high.
Kelleher’s was a performance that spoke of a goalkeeper with far more professional first-team experience than that of which he has to his name.
Added to this, a long talk having taken place between player and manager, the Neco of the Williamses put in his best performance so far in a Liverpool shirt.
A player whose previous performances have jarred somewhat, Williams has been under increasing scrutiny. He has taken some wholly unnecessary and distasteful stick on social media, and his performance against Ajax was a huge step in the right direction.
On one hand, it proves to Williams himself that he does have the talent required to cope with a demanding life at Anfield, and on the other, it hopefully reassures a fretful set of fans that, as a teenager, there is a player of purpose in there who just needs the patience and room to grow.
Then comes Jones.
Jones is ascending at great speed to what is becoming an increasingly pivotal and important role within Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
While we have the best goalkeeper in the world who gets to marshal, when all components are fit once again, a defence that contains the best centre-back, right-back and left-back in the world, something that is complemented by a front three that are at the peak of the powers in terms of age, now supplemented by the arrival of the massively impressive Diogo Jota, the midfield in comparison is a little more turbulent.
When it comes to the Liverpool midfield, we are confronted by tales of injuries, contract stalemates, escalating ages and a sense that even if we know what our strongest combination is, the chances of us fielding it on a regular basis are quite slim.
Arguably, despite having many midfield options at our disposal, we are heading towards a bit of a power vacuum.
Gini Wijnaldum is likely to depart the club next summer, while even if a contract agreement is reached he’s now over the age of 30.
Yes, while we can argue that the age of 30 in footballing terms in 2020 isn’t representative of the age of 30 of even a decade ago, when combined to the fact that Jordan Henderson and Thiago‘s birthdays are both sat within a five-month orbit either side of Gini’s, it does mean that they will age together should they all remain at Liverpool in the seasons ahead.
While James Milner can still turn it on at 34, I wouldn’t want our midfield being heavily reliant upon three 34-year-olds in 2024/25. I’ve mentioned the need for evolution before, and as part of that will come difficult decisions.
You either want to create a lasting dynasty that stretches for a decade or longer, or you’re happy with a successful three- or four-season spike of relevancy before heading back into the ‘big six’ pack, until you hit on another decent plan of attack.
With Henderson too important to dispense with, and Thiago only having just arrived – yet as a player who has only hit the 30-league game a season target once in his career – Wijnaldum will become a casualty of a difference of contract opinion and a need for evolution that won’t be lost on Klopp.
When you subtract Fabinho, who is currently beautifully bailing us out at centre-back, and add in the injury records of Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, then this is where the stage has been handed to Jones.
Suddenly, Jones has switched from an impatient and precocious talent, watching on from the bench, to an integral part of the Liverpool midfield, thrown copious amounts of trust by Klopp – particularly in the Champions League, a competition he seems most at home in.
With Fabinho occupied elsewhere, and Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita unavailable, it is almost as if the Liverpool midfield has had to skip a generation.
By the time the others return they will have a very different midfield rival on their hands, compared to the one they had when they last kicked a ball in centre-ground anger.
A marvellous goal to win the game, Jones isn’t short of confidence, but maybe now he is feeling that if he plays well, a place in the team is his to hold on to.
Liverpool news today circulates around the reaction to our Champions League progression, transfer talk and an eye on the future.Fans back on the Kop against Wolves
Having originally stated that the Main Stand would be the only one in operation for the return of supporters, Liverpool have now changed their mind.
Three-quarters of the 2,000 tickets are general admission and those will be spread between the Kop and Main Stand, subject to social distancing measures of course.
It will be a massive 271 days since the last time fans were on the Kop – hopefully this is the first significant step to getting back towards a full capacity crowd as soon as possible.Kabak incoming?
SportBild say the Reds are now seriously considering sinking money into the deal to get Ozan Kabak in during January.
The end of the year is fast approaching and with it comes the opening of the transfer window again – and the Reds might well strengthen the back line.
Kabak is one of the defenders most-frequently linked with an Anfield switch and the quoted price has come down from near €40 million in summer to €25m now – and there’s a suggestion Schalke will do business even lower.
They are in a horrid predicament, with empty bank accounts, embarrassing results and abysmal form again this season and Kabak himself isn’t exempt from that bad run.
But a change of scenery might do the trick – along with better coaching and team-mates, obviously – and the decision of whether to sign him or look elsewhere looks certain to be made in the coming weeks.Those kids
After a night when two Academy youngsters took the headlines it’s only right we cast an eye to the future…Quickfire LFC news
Barcelona have come to the decision that Shkodran Mustafi or Antonio Rudiger, neither of whom get in the team at their current clubs, are the answers to their many, many, many, many problems in defence.
Oh, and they’re also not going to sign anyone until after the presidential elections, which will give them about five days in January to wrap up any potential deals.
Good, solid planning from the biggest shambles of a club in Europe in 2020, which is saying something.Tweet of the day
What could have been, hey?
18-year-old Lazar Markovi? for Partizan during the 2012/2013 season:
Superb talent wanted by many top European clubs back then. Such a shame he never lived up to the hype. pic.twitter.com/BtYTzUOwDA
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) December 2, 2020Worth watching tonight
Can Man United hold their nerve and take a point from their last two games, part 1: a nine-man defence against Neymar and Mbappe. 8pm on BT Sport.
Clubs in the Premier League will face new restrictions on signing overseas players when the UK leaves the EU on January 1, the top flight confirmed on Tuesday.
From the start of next year, the UK will no longer be a part of the European Union, following the ‘Brexit’ vote that received just 52 percent of support in 2016.
That a result with such a small majority can instigate such a seismic and impactful change is concerning, but that is the reality everyone is forced to come to terms with.
This includes those within the Premier League, with new rules on signings announced on Tuesday, with limits on signings of overseas players under the age of 21 and a ban on signing overseas players under 18 entirely.
From January 1, signings from countries in the EU will now be under the same restrictions as those from other parts of the world, requiring a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE).
A Premier League statement confirmed that a GBE would be granted on a points-based system, with points scored based on:
They add that “players accumulating the requisite amount of points will earn a GBE automatically, while players just below the threshold may be considered for a GBE by an Exceptions Panel.”
Furthermore, in the interest of “ensuring opportunities for homegrown players,” a limit of overseas under-21 signings will be enforced, with a maximum of three in the upcoming January window and a total of six per season from 2021/22.
No longer will clubs be permitted to sign overseas players under the age of 18, which is likely why Liverpool moved to bring in Marcelo Pitaluga, Melkamu Fraeundorf, Mateusz Musialowski and Fabian Mrozek last summer.
These measures will be reviewed in full next summer, with the Home Office having approved the new GBE proposal from January 1; the restrictions also apply to clubs in the EFL.
While in ways these can be seen as restrictions, perhaps in others it will open up the prospect of an easier pathway to top Premier League clubs for players previously unable to be granted a work permit immediately.
Jurgen Klopp has expressed in the past how Liverpool would have been unable to sign the talents they were interested in within the Salzburg ranks, such as Takumi Minamino, despite possibly having tracked him from his time at Cerezo Osaka.
Either way, it is a new format that the club will need to get used to, and it could have major ramifications on the players signed and not signed in the years to come.
Before we start, let's get the pronunciation out of the way. It's 'Kwee-Veen'. Caoimhin is the Irish equivalent to the English name Kevin.
What else do we need to know about the latest Liverpool European debutant Caoimhin Kelleher? And will he stay in the team while Alisson is injured?
On Saturday, the 22-year-old conceded seven as Liverpool's U23s were battered by Man City, but Kelleher kept a clean sheet as Liverpool beat Ajax 1-0 on Tuesday evening, with Brazilian Alisson out for up to two weeks with a hamstring injury.The unintended goalkeeper - who is Kelleher? Image: Kelleher is yet to be capped by Republic of Ireland's senior team, but has 10 caps at U21 level
Kelleher, the younger brother of Wrexham defender Fiacre Kelleher, a former Celtic academy defender, was making only his fifth start for the club. Kelleher's previous four appearances were in domestic cup competitions, with the last of those coming in the FA Cup against Shrewsbury Town last season.
From Cork, Ireland, Kelleher moved to Liverpool in 2015 at the age of 17 from Irish side Ringmahon Rangers despite interest from Aston Villa and Blackburn two years earlier.
Kelleher actually started out as a striker, but played in goal when the Ringmahon U15 side were short of a goalkeeper, and he hasn't looked back. There were just three years between Kelleher playing his first ever game in goal and signing for Liverpool.
Surprisingly, he is yet to move out on loan from Liverpool, though they did have interest from the Championship in January and in the summer. Instead, Liverpool chose to send Poland U21 international Kamil Grabara on loan to Danish side AGF Aarhus.
Kelleher has played 10 times for the Republic of Ireland's U21 side, and was first named in the senior squad in November 2018, but is yet to get his first cap.
Kelleher's former coach at Ringmahon, Eddie Harrington, explained in 2018 to the Cork Echo that nothing fazes the goalkeeper, and that having been a striker himself, he could get into the mind of opponents.
"Nothing fazes him," said Harrington of Kelleher, who would score "20 or 30 goals a season" up front. "He won't let mistakes get to him.
"He used to say it to us that he could read a striker going through because he was so good at scoring goals himself that he nearly knew where they were going to put it as such. His feet were excellent."Why did he play instead of Adrian? Image: Adrian was left on the bench by Klopp as he wanted Kelleher for 'footballing' reasons
Klopp's decision to hand a Champions League debut to Kelleher ahead of established number two Adrian raised eyebrows, but the goalkeeper was solid throughout.
Explaining his decision to pick Kelleher, Klopp said it was down to Kelleher's natural ability on the ball.
Kelleher's passing accuracy was 71 per cent on Tuesday night, compared to Adrian's average of 65 per cent for his three Premier League and Champions League appearances this season.0:32 Former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Friedel believes Jurgen Klopp will stick with goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher over Adrian until Alisson returns from injury, after the 22-year-old impressed on his Champions League debut.
"I really think Adrian has done a fantastic job for us, he kept a lot of clean sheets, played everywhere," Klopp said. "But now we needed the natural football playing ability of Caoimhin Kelleher.
"We needed that for the pressing of Ajax, we needed his chips from him into the half-spaces and these kind of things.
I really think Adrian has done a fantastic job for us, he kept a lot of clean sheets, played everywhere. But now we needed the natural football playing ability of Caoimhin Kelleher. Jurgen Klopp
"He is a good shot-stopper as well. We made that decision but you never know how they are going to cope. I am really happy with how calm he was and how good he was.
"In the end, it is about keeping the ball out the net and he did that twice and he did that in an exceptional manner. He will either sleep really well tonight or not at all."Will he play in the Premier League? Image: Adrian has made several high-profile mistakes over the past year for Liverpool
Next up for Liverpool is Wolves at Anfield at 7.15pm on Sunday evening, and Kelleher is favourite to keep his place in the side in a game where Liverpool are likely to have more of the ball.
It's clear the fans want Kelleher between the sticks on Saturday, too. Adrian's high-profile mistakes in the absence of Alisson earlier this season and the 2019/20 campaign means confidence in the Spaniard is low.
But Klopp may go off what he and his goalkeeping coach John Achterberg see in training; Klopp has made a joint-high 24 starting XI changes in the Premier League this season, and solid performances in the Champions League have not always been met with a starting place at the weekend.Image: Kelleher pictured with his goalkeeping staff and team-mates when Liverpool won the Premier League
Nat Phillips started Liverpool's win over West Ham in late October just days after Rhys Williams slotted in comfortably when Fabinho was injured against Midtjylland, so even with a lengthy injury list, Klopp's starting XI is anyone's guess.
But there is seemingly no ill-feeling from Adrian, with Kelleher revealing on Tuesday night he was firmly supported by both of his goalkeeper team-mates.
"I didn't see Ali yesterday (Monday) because I think he was gone, but I got a text before the game just to tell me good luck," he said.
"Adrian was a really great support. He told me, 'I'm with you 100 per cent and supporting you no matter what'. To get that from him was really kind of him."Kelleher: Team-mates make it easy for me Image: Kelleher explained how his defensive team-mates made Tuesday's Champions League debut easy for him
As well as looking assured on the pitch, Kelleher seemed confident in front of the camera as he praised his team-mates for making the passing options "easy" for him on the ball.
Speaking to BT Sport, he said: "It was amazing for me to make my debut in the Champions League, and obviously the most important thing was to get the win and quality.
"It's quite easy for me to be honest, because the players in front of me, when I get the ball they make easy options for me, so they make my decision so much easier.
"We're not here just to take part, we want to push every day and try to play as many games as we can.
"My phone has been hopping since I got in! A big thanks to all the support and messages I've been getting."Liverpool fixtures
Sat Dec 5: Wolves (h)
Wed Dec 9: Midtjylland (a)
Sun Dec 13: Fulham (a) - live on Sky Sports
Wed Dec 16: Tottenham (h)
Sat Dec 19: Crystal Palace (a)
Sun Dec 27: West Brom (h) - live on Sky Sports
In line with the national lockdown changes from today and Liverpool City Region's Tier 2 status, LFC Foundation and Red Neighbours teams are resuming their local community delivery programmes.
All face-to-face sessions will continue to implement a strict protocol of precautions in line with government guidelines, including face coverings, sanitation stations and limiting the number of places on our sessions to ensure social distancing is observed.
Please visit www.liverpoolfc.com/foundation to find out more about our weekly sessions and to secure your place.
The safety of our participants, their families and staff team is paramount and we will continue to support our communities during this difficult time. The LFC safeguarding website also provides information on a number of additional support services available: www.liverpoolfc.com/fans/safeguarding.
After conceding a penalty which Neal Maupay thankfully missed, the right-back was then brought off at half-time, with further criticism coming his way on social media.
It was a big night for the 19-year-old as Liverpool looked to book their place in the Champions League last 16, therefore, and Williams responded with a match-winning assist as Curtis Jones downed Ajax for a 1-0 victory.
Speaking after the game, Klopp detailed how a “long talk” with Williams helped provoke an improvement, as well as highlighting the difficulty in coming in to replace Alexander-Arnold.
“We had a long talk this week. We both thought he has so much more in his locker than he has shown so far,” the manager told BT Sport.
“But that’s exactly the situation, when is the right moment for a young boy to come in?
“The season started after a really difficult summer with lockdown, nobody knew when we can go on again, then kind of a short pre-season, then all of a sudden Trent is out with COVID and then he has to play early.
“He was not in the best shape in that moment, all players have these moments. And you are on the big stage, that’s not easy.
“Tonight showed at least glimpses, he can be so much better but tonight he showed that it’s all good.”
Jones has been more assured in his displays throughout the campaign, but the midfielder has certainly improved as the months have gone on, potentially jumping ahead of the likes of Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Klopp attempted to stay reserved in his praise for the No. 17, but lauded Jones for taking his chance “exceptionally well” when others are absent.
“If I was sure he wouldn’t watch my interview I would say something else!” he joked.
“But he’s a really good kid, to be honest, a really good player. I’m really happy to have him around.
“That’s how it is sometimes, when you have problems there is always an opportunity for somebody else. And he took it, just exceptionally well, so I’m really, really happy for him.”
Tuesday night was a step forward, not only for Liverpool, Jones and Williams, but also for Caoimhin Kelleher, with a near-faultless team display against Ajax providing a major boost of confidence.
When called upon now, the hope will be that the Reds’ youngsters will be even more prepared to showcase their talents and help the side through a rough period.
Liverpool FC has released the following information about ticket sales for the match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on Sunday December 6.
Tickets are only available to supporters who were successful in the ballot.
Tickets can be purchased online from 3pm GMT on Wednesday December 2 until 8am on Thursday December 3.
If you are a disabled supporter and require assistance, please contact the disability team on 0151 264 2500, option 1.
Tickets for this sale are guaranteed and supporters can purchase one ticket per qualifying supporter up to a maximum of four per transaction. Please be aware that you may have to queue at times.
General admission seating for this match will be in the Main Stand and Kop. Wheelchair bays and personal assistant seats will be in the Main Stand only.
In line with social distancing measures, all seats will be available to purchase as single seats only to minimise the risk to public health and fellow supporters.
Please ensure that when you select your seats, you choose the seats as near as possible to each other.
Adult - £44.92
Young Adult - £22.46
Over 65 - £33.69
Junior - £8.80
Adult Disabled - £33.69
Young Adult Disabled - £16.84
Over 65 Disabled - £25.27
Junior Disabled - £6.71
If tickets remain, they will be made available to supporters on the waiting list.
Disabled supporters will be contacted directly.
Further sales information and waiting list positions will be advertised here from 11am on Thursday December 3.
Once you have completed your purchase, your NFC pass will be available to download to your smartphone from the Tickets section within your My Account.
Further information will be included on your ticket purchase confirmation email.
All supporters must use their smartphone to enter the stadium as season ticket and Member cards will not be activated.
Tickets are non-transferrable, and each supporter attending must download their own individual NFC pass.
Supporters will be asked to bring photographic ID with them for checks at the turnstiles before entry. We will not allow entry if proof of ID is not provided.
Supporters will also be required to complete a health declaration form within 24 hours of kick-off.
Further information will be available in your ticket purchase confirmation email. Failure to complete the form may result in you being refused entry to the stadium.
Before purchasing a ticket, you must refer to the Supporter Code of Conduct to ensure you comply with the new rules and guidelines that will be in place to make Anfield as safe as possible for everybody present.
For more information on the return of fans to stadiums, please visit our new dedicated website hub which provides further guidance on this process.
The Reds were battling in an even contest with Ajax on Tuesday night when Neco Williams curled a left-footed cross towards Andre Onana’s back post.
It appeared to be sailing out for a goal-kick, and it seemed Onana was of that belief as the goalkeeper allowed it to dip over him, only for Jones to steal in at the back post and volley in.
The midfielder was clearly thrilled with his contribution as the Reds booked their place in the last 16 as winners of Group D, with Jones taking to Instagram after the game:
“I’m delighted for Curt, because he’s worked really hard.
“He listens, he wants to learn all the time, and I think over the last few weeks you’ve seen the maturity in his play and he’s been outstanding. So he deserves his goal.
“Great ball from Neco, I thought he overhit it so I might have given him a bit of stick when he hit it but it was a fantastic ball in the end. I’m delighted for both of them.”
“Unbelievable. Outstanding. Some of the saves he made, important saves, distribution excellent, coming out and commanding his area.
“I thought he was outstanding and a real plus for us.”
Andy Robertson also noted the significance of Kirkby in the Reds’ victory, saying it “doesn’t get much better” than three academy players ensuring the win:
Kelleher himself reflected on a “proud night,” while Williams was pleased with an “assist for the boy”:
Henderson added to his post-match interview by giving “massive credit to the young lads in the side,” and the absent James Milner praised “top performances from the young guns”:
The victory allows Liverpool to sharpen their focus on the Premier League, with a dead-rubber clash with Midtjylland providing Klopp a chance to rotate next week, and the aim will be recapturing top spot in the league.
Wolves are next on Sunday night, and the manager will be hoping for a similarly battling display as Anfield welcomes a number of supporters back for the first time since March.
The media lauded the displays of the three youngsters in Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Ajax and praised the Reds for yet again finding a way to get the job done.
The Reds confirmed a place in the last 16 of the Champions League and as group winners with a battling win at Anfield.
Job done for Liverpool, who now have a valuable dead-rubber fixture against Midtjylland which Jurgen Klopp will be most grateful for in this intense, relentless schedule.
Here’s how the media reacted to the victory.Reporters reflected on a job well done by Liverpool which creates vital breathing space in the schedule…
The Mirror‘s Mark Jones, among others, assessed it was exactly the night Klopp will have wanted as his team earned some priceless breathing space in securing early qualification:
“And so Klopp has that most rare of commodities this season: breathing space.
“With the Premier League title race looking like a tight one and Christmas around the corner, it will be a rest he gratefully accepts.”
The Liverpool Echo‘s Paul Gorst praised Klopp’s squad for getting through the group stage with such little fuss:
“Group D has been safely negotiated with little, if not quite minimum, fuss.
“Save for one of the poorest European displays in many a season last week against Atalanta, it’s been plain sailing for Klopp’s side.”
The Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe applauded Liverpool for continuing to do what’s needed to get through a period in which it has seemed everything has gone against them:
“That was the reward for another resilient rather than majestic Liverpool performance. We expect so much, even with half a team in the hospital wing of their new training facility, but more often than not they keep finding a way.
“The more it seems only injuries can stop them, the more they suggest such setbacks are a hindrance to consistent dazzling football rather than enduring promising results.”
Neil Jones, writing for Goal, reflected on a proud night for the academy as the three youngsters stepped up and delivered on the biggest stage:
“This was a wonderful night for Liverpool’s Academy, with three graduates shining under the Anfield spotlight.
“That’s what the manager needs right now; everyone delivering, from the stars to the subs to the kids.”
The Mirror‘s David Maddock praised Klopp for being brave enough to give the youngsters a chance on such a key night, and the trio for repaying that faith:
“Klopp was repaid for not only giving Jones another important Champions League role, but also making the bold step of choosing to give 22 year-old Irish keeper Caoimhin Kelleher his first European start in the absence of injured Alisson, instead of going with the safer, more experienced option of usual reserve, Adrian.”On a proud night for the academy, all three youngsters were praised for their starring roles…
Neil Jones lauded Jones’ match-winning display and described the 19-year-old’s potential as “limitless”:
“Curtis Jones, Scouse to his core, was the match-winner, capping a superb performance with his first European goal in front of the Kop.
“At 19, the young midfielder’s potential looks limitless. He belongs at this level, that’s for sure.”
Mark Jones was not only impressed by Jones’ performance, but also the way in which the upcoming midfielder has “blossomed into a real first-team player”:
“The youngster’s progress has been a refreshing constant during these fluctuating times, and it was he who took the game to Ajax from the off as Liverpool pressed for an early goal.
“He was so unlucky not to get it when his effort from distance struck a post, and the teenager again demonstrated that 2020 has seen him blossom into real first-team player for the Reds, something that his goal – at a crucial time – made clear.”
Maddock thinks it’s now time for Jones to be handed more starts as he looks “completely at home” on the biggest stages:
“But in the midst of a crippling injury crisis he has taken responsibility and command of a place in midfield – and this time grabbed the chance to surely secure a more regular starting place now, with such an impressive display for a teenager.
The Independent‘s Alex Pattle was taken aback by Jones’ supreme confidence and explained how the match-winner has the perfect attitude to succeed under Klopp:
“The 19-year-old’s confidence throughout was promising – not that he’s lacked any in his previous outings for the Reds, but he had the bit between his teeth to make a difference here, not shying away from criticising his more senior team-mates when he felt it was deserved.
“In a game that Liverpool didn’t need to win, the midfielder saw victory as a necessity. That is the sort of attitude that Jurgen Klopp wants from his players. It is an attitude that wins trophies.”
Meanwhile, the Press Association’s Carl Markham reflected on a faultless performance from Kelleher in which the ‘keeper “did not put a foot wrong”:
“The focus had been all been on Caoimhin Kelleher making his competition debut between the posts for Jurgen Klopp’s side because of injury to Alisson Becker but the 22-year-old did not put a foot wrong.”
The Independent‘s Melissa Reddy was particularly impressed with the composure and maturity of the Irishman’s display:
“Bar the big, decisive saves, Kelleher’s composure was pleasing to watch. Against a slick, aggressive side as part of a makeshift defence, he was never flustered.”
The Mail‘s Ian Ladyman analysed Kelleher’s match-saving stop from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and explained why it was such an outstanding piece of goalkeeping:
“It looked all over a goal from point-blank range until Kelleher got both hands to the ball and diverted it up and around the post. The second part of that sentence was actually the impressive bit.
“To make the save was one thing but to get the ball away from attackers sniffing the follow-up was probably the most important part of all.”
Neil Jones is in no doubt that Kelleher should keep his place against Wolves and should now be regarded fully as Liverpool’s No. 2:
“He will surely start against Wolves now. Certainly, he looked more assured here than Adrian has when called upon this season.
“Comfortable with the ball at his feet, loud and decisive, this was the night the No.3 goalkeeper wearing the No.62 jersey has become the No. 2. No wonder Klopp headed straight for him at the final whistle.”
Elsewhere, the Liverpool Echo‘s Ian Doyle singled out Williams, commending the right-back’s mental strength to bounce back with such an assured display:
“Neco Williams thoroughly deserved the bearhug he received from Klopp after responding to a difficult week with an increasingly impressive display at right-back.
“The Welshman is clearly made of tough stuff.”Journalists saw more positive than negatives with the performance as things begin to look up for the Reds…
Liverpool’s defensive performance was “superb,” in the view of ESPN’s Tom Fenton:
“Defensively, Liverpool were superb. Up against a prolific Ajax attack, the home side remain poised and organised, even as the shots rained down in the closing stages.”
“There were widespread concerns when Klopp had to leave Joel Matip out of the weekend trip to Brighton, but his importance to the Reds has long become clear for all to see.
“It was Matip, remember, who was arguably Liverpool’s best central defender in the knockout stages of the run to 2019 Champions League glory, and while his ability to turn in these type of performances has never really been questioned, the fitness required to deliver them has. He simply has to stay fit for Liverpool, but right now he is and he is delivering.”
Fenton highlighted one area for improvement, that being Liverpool’s wastefulness in attack:
“As much as we may associate the Premier League champions with goals, they’ve struggled to put the ball in the back of the net in their past three outings. Wasteful finishing was on display once again tonight, as it took a mistake from the Ajax keeper for Liverpool to be able to take the lead.
Elsewhere, Gorst reserved some praise for Klopp, highlighting how brilliantly the German has done to turn the Reds into a side that regularly reaches the latter stages:
“What a transformation it’s been in Europe for the Reds under the current manager. Five years ago, qualification for the competition itself would have been cause for celebration and it looked someway off.
“Now, they contest the last 16 as a matter of routine and have serious designs on becoming champions of Europe every time. With three Champions League final appearances on his CV, including winning it in 2019, Klopp’s tactical acumen at this elite level sometimes goes curiously unspoken outside the confines of the red bubble.”
Jordan Henderson believes Liverpool yet again displayed their true character in Tuesday night's win over AFC Ajax in the Champions League.
The Reds clinched top spot in Group D to secure their place in the last 16 with a game to spare thanks to Curtis Jones' second-half finish at Anfield.
They did so during an incredibly busy run and with an extensive injury list, which Alisson Becker joined due to a hamstring complaint ahead of the tie.
After overcoming those hurdles, Henderson was left delighted with the application and determination displayed by Jürgen Klopp's side against the Eredivisie outfit.
He told Liverpoolfc.com post-match: "A very big win, important. I thought the lads were excellent.
"We knew it would be a tough game and there's things we can be better in and, of course, we probably could have scored two or more goals, especially in the second half.
"But I'm really delighted with the performance and the character of the team with the setback of injuries that we've had of late.
"But to keep fighting and to get the three points and win the group is massive for us, so I'm delighted with that."
On the team's ability to come through adversity, the captain commented: "We've been like that for a long time and it's just about building on that and keep it going.
"No matter what 11 or 14, 15 or whatever it is that manages to play in the game, they give absolutely everything.
"We've got some fantastic players, especially the young players tonight who again showed the quality to get us the three points.
"Overall, I'm really pleased with the performance. I know it's not our best performance but I feel as though it was a real battle and everybody gave everything right up to the 90th minute and you get your rewards, you get your three points. So that's why I'm really pleased with it."
Job done. Into the knockouts. Massive credit to the young lads in the side tonight. Some big performances! https://t.co/uYmSsL4rbD— JHenderson (Jordan Henderson) 1st Dec 22:35
Two of the club's Academy products combined to produce the game's winner, with Jones neatly converting Neco Williams' cross at the back post with 58 minutes on the clock.
Another helped preserve the clean sheet for Liverpool as goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher expertly thwarted Ajax multiple times on his Champions League debut.
"Unbelievable, isn't he? Outstanding, some of the saves he made, important saves," Henderson said of the Irish stopper. "His distribution was excellent, coming out and commanding his area. I thought he was outstanding and a real plus for us.
"I'm delighted for Curt because he's worked really hard. He listens, he wants to learn all the time and I think over the last few weeks you've seen the maturity in his play and he's been outstanding. He deserved his goal.
"A great ball from Neco – I thought he overhit it, so I might have given him a bit of stick when he hit it! But it was a fantastic ball in the end. So I'm delighted for both of them."
Liverpool's focus now returns to Premier League matters, with Wolverhampton Wanderers arriving at Anfield on Sunday evening.
Henderson concluded: "That's a big gap for us, not a small one! We've got to use that the best we can, recover and get ready for a tough game because Wolves are a good side.
"They got a big win the other day against Arsenal, so they'll be right up for it. It's another tough game for us but we'll recover and get ready for that one."