Match reportMatip's late header secures UCL win for Liverpool over Ajax
Joel Matip's thumping header secured a late 2-1 win for Liverpool over AFC Ajax in Tuesday night's Champions League clash at Anfield.
Extended highlights: Liverpool 2-1 Ajax
- Want to watch this video? Subscribe to LFCTV GO now and you’ll also get first-team highlights and audio commentary, live Academy football, documentaries, boxsets and much more
Mohamed Salah’s cool finish put the Reds in front during the first half but that lead was quickly cancelled out by Mohammed Kudus’ clinical strike for the away team.
The hosts dominated for long spells after the interval and their pressure finally paid off with a minute to go as Matip netted at the Kop end, clinching three important points on the second matchday of Group A.
Jürgen Klopp made four changes to his starting XI as Matip, Kostas Tsimikas, Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota were brought in.
Trent Alexander-Arnold became the youngest player in club history to reach the milestone of 50 European appearances, aged 23 years and 341 days.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Fabinho, Thiago (Bajcetic, 90), Elliott (Firmino, 66), Diaz (Milner, 90), Salah, Jota (Nunez, 66).
Unused substitutes: Adrian, Davies, Gomez, Carvalho, Arthur, Phillips.
Before kick-off at Anfield, a period of silence was held in memory of Queen Elizabeth II after Her Majesty passed away on Thursday.
Liverpool sought to assert themselves from the beginning in response to last week’s defeat in Naples, though neither side was able to land a firm glove on the other during the early stages.
That changed emphatically in the 17th minute as the Reds swiftly moved the ball from their own end of the pitch to the Ajax net.
Alisson Becker’s long kick out was cutely flicked on by Luis Diaz to Jota ahead of him and he in turn guided a pass into the area, where Salah tucked a finish past Remko Pasveer and inside the right-hand post.
Tails up, Klopp’s men pushed on for a second and Diaz soon threatened it when the ball came kindly to him, unmarked in the Ajax box, but he hooked his effort off target to the left.
Jota thumped a shot wide of the same post from a similar position and much greater distance a moment later, only for the visitors to strike back at the 27-minute mark.
From an attack along their left flank, the Eredivisie outfit picked out Kudus in space inside the Reds box and he swivelled to unleash a blast that went in off the crossbar.
Liverpool continued to make more of the running following that leveller, though, and Alexander-Arnold was not too far away when he met a bouncing ball with an ambitious long-ranger that drifted too high.
Next, the No.66’s corner from the right reached Virgil van Dijk, who escaped Edson Alvarez to head at goal. Pasveer scooped the ball away from the line, however, and foiled Jota on the rebound.
Alexander-Arnold was then twice denied by the Ajax goalkeeper having surged forward to carry Diaz’s pass into the box, meaning it remained level at the interval.
There was immediate action when the play resumed as an Ajax counter-attack ended with Kudus going down under the attention of Salah and having his penalty appeals waved away.
Jota instantly sprung in the other direction and, having taken possession all the way to the opposition area, his eventual effort was saved by Pasveer.
By the hour mark, the set pattern of play had only been entrenched, with the Reds camped in the Ajax half and leading the pressure, but remaining vigilant to breakaways.
Salah was just unable to bring the ball under control when he broke into a one-on-one and Harvey Elliott clipped the follow-up wide, though a belated offside flag was raised.
Heading into the encounter’s final quarter, Klopp shuffled his attacking options with the introduction of both Roberto Firmino and Darwin Nunez.
It was Ajax who carved out the next big opportunity, however, as a move on the right flank saw a lofted delivery to the far post tee up Daley Blind, who sent a header back across goal inches wide.
Nunez hooked a chance wide of the left post as Salah set him up inside the box, and then threaded a dangerous cross along the front of goal that Pasveer touched away from the waiting Diaz.
Salah’s deflected attempt touched off the crossbar as time ticked away, but from the resulting corner Matip leapt highest to force a brilliant header over the line and win it dramatically for Liverpool.