So used to being one of the dominant forces in world football in recent years, Liverpool have so far failed to step up a gear this season and have looked like a shadow of the team that reached the last year’s final.
In the aftermath of that defeat, Liverpool manager Klopp said the team needed to “reinvent themselves” and Tuesday’s win certainly helped that.
The performance was by no means a vintage Liverpool, but some of the intensity, movement and incisive passing that had scared the team so much was on display again.
After Mo Salah’s opening goal put Liverpool 1-0 up, it looked like the home side could be on course for a comfortable win at Anfield – but not much has been comfortable for Liverpool this season.
Just 10 minutes later, Ajax were level thanks to Mohammed Kudus’ brilliant finish in the top corner which left Liverpool keeper Alisson completely pinned down.
In truth, Liverpool should have found the winner long before Matip’s 89th-minute header, but a combination of debauchery in front of goal and clever goalkeeping from veteran Ajax stopper Remko Pasveer kept the scores level. .
Before Matip’s goal, Ajax could have easily found a winner of their own, but Daley Blind’s free header at the far post deflected horribly wide.
In his post-match press conference, Klopp called the win a ‘first step’ on Liverpool’s path to rekindling their old form and said he had seen ‘a lot’ of improvement since the loss to Naples.
“So completely different – the start was different, the middle was different, the end was different. The football we played, the way we defended, everything was different. Much higher intensity, much more ‘aggressive, braver, more ready.
“As I said, everything was fine. It was a first step, nothing more, nothing more, but everything was fine.”
Tottenham lose late
Late goals from Paulinho and Arthur secured a 2-0 victory and sent the José Alvalade stadium wild, as Sporting continued their perfect start to the Champions League campaign following an impressive 3-0 victory at Eintracht Frankfurt on opening day.
Sporting’s England striker Marcus Edwards, a Tottenham academy product, was a particular thorn in the Spurs side throughout the game and nearly scored the goal of the season in the first half after the 23-year-old fought his way through the entire Spurs defence. .
Tottenham are one of only two Premier League sides to remain unbeaten domestically after six games, but while the side have been efficient in picking up points, Conte’s side have so far failed to dazzle on the field.
The continued poor form of Son Heung-min, still scoreless this season, remains a concern, but Conte insisted Tuesday’s loss was a close competition his side “didn’t deserve to lose”.
“We conceded a goal from a corner and for sure we can do a lot better. Then we conceded another goal two minutes later. We have to work on all those aspects because the Champions League level is a important level, and we have to try to improve because every match is very difficult.
“The match against Marseille was difficult. The same today. Of course, in the end, we didn’t deserve to win, but at the same time, we didn’t deserve to lose.”