85 min: Liverpool want this game to be over. They’re not exactly in trouble but they’re offering very little and appear to be relying on Midtjylland to remain harmlessly limited. “Evander?” gulps Peter Oh. “Call me punch-drunk, but I’m nervous about a player who shares a first name with a famous boxer. Imagine if Midtjylland get to the knockout phase!” Don’t worry, Liverpool have Joe Gomez.
81 min: Liverpool substitution: Firmino on, Jota off. So Klopp has now introduced all three of his main attackers, which you know he would not have wanted to do.
80 min: Salah skitters down the right and then veers in-field. When he gets to the edge of the area he tries to curl the ball around a defender and into the top corner. But his sights are misaligned and the ball sails into the stands.
79 min: Alison hoofs an aimless ball forward. The quality of Liverpool’s distribution from the back is just one of the aspects to their game that has been way below their usual standard.
77 min: Evander is allowed to take down the ball with his back to goal, just 12 yards out. Gomez was not close enough to him. The striker spins and shoots … just wide!
76 min: Liverpool are defending increasingly deep, and Midtjylland are attacking with growing belief, though not yet with much precision. This is becoming quite the slog for the Premier League side.
74 min: Midtjylland are growing in confidence. Liverpool are looking anything but authoritative. You can tell the visitors sense an equaliser even though they haven’t been able to create a clear chance in this half.
70 min: Midtjylland build their way forward, forcing Liverpool to defend in numbers. They’ve got bodies in the box – tall bodies – but the cross is overhit.
67 min: Liverpool raid forward through Wijnaldum, who helps it on to Shaqiri, who dances into the box before his lovely run is brought to an end by Paulinho.
64 min: Liverpool have gone off the boil slightly since taking the lead, which surely is not what the introduction of Salah and Mané was supposed to achieve. And Midtjylland are starting to perk up. This contest is not over yet.
62 min: Salah sprints into the box for the first time .. but overruns the ball, allowing Paulinho to intervene and clear.
60 min: Liverpool substitutions: Salah and Mané on, Origi and Minamino off. It’s fair to say the departed duo did not enhance their claims for more regular action.
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56 min: It seems appropriate that Midtjylland, Europe’s biggest stats fans, are the opponents to concede the 10,000th goal scored by Liverpool since their foundation in 1892.
GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Midtjylland (Jota 55)
That’s a brilliant goal! Liverpool circulated the ball patiently, eventually working it wide to Alexander-Arnold, who played it in to Shaqiri and continued his run into the area. Shaqiri slipped the ball through to him with a beautiful disguised pass, and Alexander-Arnold slid the ball across the face of goal for Jota to convert at the back post. Surgical!
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52 min: Dreyer gets in behind Robertson and digs out a wonderful cross towards the back post. But thankfully for Liverpool, no visitor had anticipated it.
50 min: Jota drives in-field from the left, past two players and into the box. But the third opponents nicks the ball off his foot just as he tried to sneak it through to Minamino.
46 min: Klopp suggested before kickoff that he didn’t want Henderson to play the whole game; events have persuaded him to make a change during the break. Wijnaldum is on in place of Henderson for the second half.
“I assume LFC’s physio is wrapping Gomez in bubble wrap at half-time,” quips Tony Barr. “Meanwhile, brave of young Williams to agree to come on given the attrition rate of centre backs at the moment. Who’s up for West Ham? Hendo?” I reckon Origi could do a job there.
Elsewhere in this group, Atalanta are trailing 2-0 at home to Ajax, which uts fresh gloss on Liverpool’s win in Holland last week.
“I’ve been watching the game pretty attentively, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything happen,” says Charles Antaki, proving that he was indeed watching the game attentively.
Half-time: Liverpool 0-0 Midtjylland
Well, that was a dismal half for Liverpool. Not only did they fail to create any chances but, even worse, their central defensive worries deepened as they lost Fabinho to what looked like a hamstring injury. Rhys Williams had done nothing wrong since replacing him but Liverpool’s but there are big challenges head, not just the second half here. Midtjyllan will be fancying their chances of nicking a famous victory: they had the best – OK, only – chance of the first half, when Alisson denied them. Unless there is a radical improvement from Liverpool after the break, expect to see Salah and Firmino soon.
45 min: Alexander-Arnold arrows over a delicious ball from the right. Minamino tries to glance a header on the run into the bottom corner from 16 yards. It’s a reasonable effort but flies a couple of yards wide.
41 min: Milner booked for shunting Sisto to the ground to curtail a counter-attack on half-way.
40 min: Shaqiri slips a pass through to Milner at the right-hand side of the box. Milner’s low shot is deflected behind for a corner.
38 min: Robertson’s cross is cut out at the near post, giving Liverpool a corner. Robertson takes it. Origi can’t get his head to it, and Jota sees it too late to do anything other than wave his foot at it, turning it wide from eight yards.
36 min: Aside from Fabinho’s injury, the other thing for Klopp to fret about is the fact Liverpool haven’t had a shot worthy of the description yet.
33 min: Klopp’s is raging on the sidelines, seemingly about the rugged nature of some of Midtyjlland’s challenges. They haven’t quite been from the Pickford-Richarlison playbook, but they haven’t been clever and you can understand Liverpool being anxious about a rising casualty list.
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32 min: The visitors collect their third yellow card of the match, with Cajuste punished for jumping into a tackle on Henderson.
29 min: Liverpool substitution: Rhys Williams comes on in place of Fabinho. The 19-year-old has a heck of a job on his hands to ease Liverpool’s concerns about all the injuries in central defence. All of which underlines why Klopp has been so vexed about the relentless schedule that Liverpool face.
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28 min: Oh dear. Fabinho is down and calling for treatment. He pulled up as he was running back, which suggests he’s twanged a muscle. Liverpool are going to have to make another change in central defence. Fabinho is able to walk off, at least, and doesn’t look to be in grievous pain. But Liverpool can ill afford to be without him even for a few weeks.
27 min: So far, Minamino has tended to be the most central of Liverpool’s attackers. Origi is popping up regularly on the right.
25 min: Andersson hurls another long throw in from the right/ Gomez heads it clear at the near post. Then Onyeka gets booked for a taking out Origi as Liverpool tried to break.
22 min: Liverpool have quelled the Danes’ early vim and are now controlling possession. But they’re not looking especially dangerous at the minute. At least they weren’t until Alexander-Arnold launched into a Barnes-in-Brazil style run, zigzagging his way past four players and into the area before trying to poke the ball through to Minamino. The pass is intercepted. Pity, as that would have been a lovely addition to the full-back portfolio of assists.
19 min: Milner breaks up play in the middle and then nips a cute pass through to Jota, who touches it past Scholz and sets off after it. Scholez chops him down and gets a yellow card. Jota would have had a clear run on goal from 30 yards if he’d not been fouled. Morally, the ref should be allowed to give a penalty for that.
16 min: Gomez overhits a long diagonal from the back. Again. That’s another aspect to Van Dijk’s absence that Liverpool will surely rue.
14 min: Further to what I was saying six minutes ago, Alexander-Arnold had just curled over a lovely inviting delivery for Minamino. Who misses it completely.
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11 min: Andersson flings in a long throw from the right, which is a favourite tactic of this team. Liverpool saw it coming and clear without bother.
8 min: Gomez nuts away a cross from the left as Midtjylland continue to have the upper hand. “I haven’t seen much critical appraisal of Minamino so far from the footy reports and also haven’t seen many highlights from his few minutes on the pitch,” hollers Brian O’Toole all the way from Australia. “Can he cut the mustard?” He’s done nothing so far today but he’s generally looked a very nifty player to me: quick and dynamic with great feet and a jagged wit.
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6 min: Sisto tries to trick Alisson by eschewing the cross and curling a low shot around the wall. But the keeper watched it every yard of the way and made an easy save
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5 min: The visitors continue their bright start. They’re energetic and there’s a cohesion to him that Liverpool have lacked so far. An now they have a freekick wide on the right in a very useful crossing position…
3 min: Liverpool’s defence is unpicked by a long, straight ball from the back! Robertson was the most guilty, since he was deeper than his teammates and allowed Dreyer to run off him and on to the pass. Alisson comes to his rescue, standing up and blocking Dreyer’s shot from 16 yards. The forward rather lost his cool there: he was clean through and should have picked a spot the keeper couldn’t reach.
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2 min: Anderson, the 31-year-old goalkeeper making his first appearance after the season because Midytjylland’s first-choice goalkeeper is injured, settles any early nerves by coming to claim a cross.
1 min: They’re off! The visitors did the honours but were hounded into losing possession quickly, and now they’re on the back foot…
The teams are on the pitch, the toss has been taken. Kickoff is imminent …
Champions League results from earlier today
Lokomotiv Moscow 1-2 Bayern Munich
Shakhtar 0-0 Internazionale
“You mention Eggen’s goal,” notes FourTWoThreOne. “Never forget Des Lynam signing off that night with ‘so it’s Eggen for Brondby, and Egg on the face for Liverpool’.”
Klopp’s pre-match thoughts
On the new central defensive partnership between Gomez an Fabinho, he says: “It’s getting better and better. We don’t have time for training so we use the game to get used to each other. The alternatives are great talents but really young.” He also hints that, ideally, he would like to remove Henderson early today because of the “absolutely ridiculous” schedule coming up. “Managing the intensity is difficult, football is always intense. But that’s life nowadays, we’ll try to deal with it.”
Liverpool v Denmark: the facts
This is only Liverpool’s fifth game against a Danish club, and the first since they lost 1-0 at home to Brondby in the 1995-96 Uefa Cup second round second leg, going out by the same aggregate scoreline. They had eased past OB in their sole previous tie, in the first round of their victorious campaign in the 1983-84 European Cup (6-0 on aggregate).
Dan Eggen’s goal for Brondby in that 1995 tie is therefore the only one Liverpool have conceded in their four games against clubs from Denmark.
“Liverpool are saving their big guns for West Ham,” notes Frank Zelko. “I bet that sentence hasn’t been written in a while.” Indeed. But ‘big guns’ is a phrase that apples more aptly to West Ham, who are probably the tallest and brawniest side in the league these days. They’ll sure be looking to exploit the absence of Van Dijk.
As you can see from the line-ups below, Klopp has decided to rest his first-choice front three, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on the bench. In come Divock Origi, Tajumi Minamino and Diogo Jota, as well as Xherdan Shaqiri.
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Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Gomez, Robertson; Milner, Henderson; Shaqiri, Minamino, Jota; Origi
Subs: Adrian, Kelleher, Jones, Cain, Firmino, N Williams, R Williams, Wijnaldum, Salah, Mané
Midtjylland: Andersen; Andersson, Sviatchenko, Scholz, Paulinho; Onyeka, Cajuste; Dreyer, Sisto, Mabil; Kaba
Subs: M Anderson, Cools, Evander, Dyhr, Isaksen, Kraev, Madsen, Ottesen, Pfeiffer, Thorsen, Vibe
Referee: P Razkowski (Poland)
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Hello. Nothing can be taken for granted in this world any more. So let’s start with the case for today’s visitors winning at Anfield. Danish champions Midtjylland are a crafty side run by people who’ve proven they can make modest resources go far thanks to shrewd recruitment and advanced maths. They earned this date by winning knockout ties against Ludogorets, Young Boys and Slavia Prague. And they’ve got more rehearsed moves than a big-label boy band, so watch out for them trying to take advantage of Van Dijk-less Liverpool at set-pieces. Although this is Midtjylland’s first ever participation in the Champions League group stages, they have knocked an English team out of a continental competition before, beating Sadio Mané’s Southampton in the Europa League back in 2015.
All that being said, it would be a shock if Liverpool – even with all their injuries and even if Jürgen Klopp mixes the side up a tad – failed to beat a side that lost 4-0 at home to Atalanta last week. Liverpool may not have sparkled while overcoming Ajax at the same time and they clearly have defensive issues, but they should still have enough firepower to send the visitors back to Denmark with nothing more than stories of the time they saw Divock Oirigi hurtling past them on his way to another goal. Right? Let’s see.
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