Football Features

Winners and losers from Liverpool 2-0 FC Midtjylland & the rest of Tuesday’s UCL action

By Chris Smith

Published: 22:27, 27 October 2020

Liverpool continued their winning start to the 2020/21 Champions League with a 2-0 victory over FC Midtjylland on Tuesday night.

After pulling off an impressive 1-0 victory away at Ajax last week, Jurgen Klopp’s men were worked hard by the Danish champions at Anfield and on another day, could have drawn or worse.

However, goals from Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah were enough to see off Brian Priske’s men, leaving Liverpool with six points from two group-stage games so far.

Here are the winners and losers from Tuesday’s action.

Winner: Diogo Jota

Thought by many to be mere back-up to Liverpool’s fearsome front three, Jota has been excellent for the Reds so far and is fully deserving of the extended minutes he’s enjoying right now.

The Portugal international was on hand to tap home Trent Alexander-Arnold’s delivery from inside the six-yard box to get Liverpool in front on a difficult night at Anfield, backing up his winner against Sheffield United in the Premier League at the weekend.

That was only Jota’s second-ever goal in the Champions League, four years after he netted his first for FC Porto back in 2016.

Loser: Fabinho

As if Klopp’s defensive injury problems weren’t bad enough with the absences of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, Fabinho became the latest to limp out of the action on Tuesday night.

Running back towards goal as Midtjylland came on the attack, Fabinho pulled up without contact, appearing to hold his hamstring. It was enough to force the Brazil international off, replaced by young Rhys Williams, and Klopp now faces an anxious wait to find out the severity of the injury.

Given the hectic schedule footballers are facing this year, this might not be the last time we see an issue like this…

Winner: Frank Onyeka

To pick out just one Midtjylland player seems unfair, but nobody embodied their gargantuan team effort more than Frank Onyeka.

The Nigerian midfielder was an absolute monster in the middle for the Danish champions, hounding Liverpool in possession and gobbling up almost everything put in front of him with an incredible mixture of aggression and grace.

By the time the final whistle blew, Onyeka had made eight tackles, three interceptions and two clearances, while on the ball, the 22-year-old showed poise and ambition, creating one chance and completing 82% of his passes.

If only Midtjylland had a little more quality in the final third, they might have left Merseyside with a share of the spoils. If they had, they’d owe a huge debt of gratitude to the efforts of Onyeka.

Loser: Anders Dreyer

Let’s just start off by saying Anders Dreyer was absolutely sensational on Tuesday night, causing Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez no end of trouble down Midtjylland’s right flank.

So, why is he listed as a loser? Well, the one thing missing from his performance at Anfield was a goal, and he certainly had one of the best chances of the game.

Priske’s side pushed hard for the equaliser as the game went on, growing in confidence thanks to a lively, ambitious performance. And it looked like that equaliser would come in the final couple of minutes when Dreyer got on the end of a pass inside the Liverpool box and beautifully ghosted past Gomez in true Lionel Messi-esque fashion. The only thing the former Brighton man had to do was beat Alisson at his near post but, instead, he managed to chip it just wide, hitting the side-netting.

Dreyer was immediately punished as the Reds raced down the other end to seal the win thanks to a Salah penalty. Oh, what could have been…

Five things you might have missed from the Champions League on Tuesday

1. Kimmich beauty saves the day for Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski failed to score in back-to-back Champions League games for the first time since Bayern Munich’s last-16 exit to Liverpool in 2018/19 but, no matter, Joshua Kimmich was on hand to give the Bundesliga champions a hard-fought win over Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia.

Having initially seen Leon Goretzka’s opener cancelled out by Anton Miranchuk on 70 minutes, Kimmich stepped up shortly after with a beautiful turn and finish to restore Bayern’s lead with his sixth direct goal involvement of the season so far across all competitions (two goals, four assists).

That’s 10 wins from 10 Champions League games now for Hansi Flick, who has more winners’ medals in his collection than defeats (0) in this competition since taking over as Bayern manager.

2. Martinez misses sitter as Inter are held

Lautaro Martinez has gone from being heavily linked with Barcelona to apparently useless in front of goal in a matter of months, as demonstrated by his open-goal miss from just five yards out on Tuesday as Inter drew 0-0 with Shakhtar Donetsk.

There’s no doubting the Argentina international is an incredible talent, but he looks totally bereft of confidence having now gone four games without a goal across all competitions, and this is not the sort of form Inter need from him as they negotiate a Champions League group also containing Real Madrid and Borussia Monchengladbach.

3. Real Madrid stun Gladbach with late comeback

Real Madrid are not making it easy for themselves in the Champions League, are they? After losing against Shakhtar Donetsk last week, Los Blancos recovered to beat El Clasico rivals Barcelona 3-1 at the weekend, filling them with confidence for their trip Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday.

However, that seemed to count for absolutely nothing as a Marcus Thuram double fired the hosts into a two-goal lead inside the hour-mark.

For so long, that appeared to be enough for Marco Rose’s men until Casemiro first assisted Karim Benzema in the 87th minute, before finding the equaliser himself deep into second-half stoppage time.

Heartbreak for Gladbach, blushes spared for Real Madrid, although Zinedine Zidane’s men aren’t convincing anyone right now.

4. ‘Hipster’s dream’ delivers the goods

Undoubtedly the absolute hipster’s dream fixture on Tuesday night was Atalanta vs Ajax. Two teams who love nothing more than piling forward to flood the attack and in great goalscoring form, with Atalanta beating Midtjylland 4-0 last week and Ajax putting 13 (thirteen!) past VVV-Venlo in the Eredivise at the weekend.

Well, safe to say the game delivered on its great promise as the hosts battled back to overturn a 2-0 Ajax lead in a thoroughly entertaining affair.

Lassina Traore followed on from his five-goal haul at the weekend to double Ajax’s lead after Dusan Tadic fired home from the spot on the half-hour mark.

But Atalanta never quite know when to quit and Gian Piero Gasperini’s men hit back to salvage a point after half-time with two goals in six minutes from Colombian striker Duvan Zapata.

Group D looks like it’s going to be packed full of drama, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

5. Sterling emulates Gerrard as City cruise in France

Manchester City have endured their fair share of European troubles over the past few years but after beating Porto 3-1 in their group-stage opener last week, fans will have enjoyed another routine win on Tuesday night after breezing past Marseille 3-0.

The Citizens totally dominated the French giants on their own patch, with goals from Ferran Torres, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling doing the business.

The latter now sits on 21 Champions League goals, the same as Liverpool legend and former teammate, Steven Gerrard.

Tuesday’s other results:

  • FC Porto 2-0 Olympiacos
  • Atletico Madrid 3-2 RB Salzburg