Liverpool beat Inter: Luis Diaz is special, duo not untouchable and Klopp's genius at subs


It wasn’t pretty and Liverpool rode their luck at times but the Reds will take a precious 2-0 lead back to Merseyside for their Champions League last 16 knockout tie. Express Sport runs you through five things we learned…

Fabinho is Liverpool’s new MVP

He may not grab the headlines but Fabinho’s importance to this Liverpool side does not go unnoticed – certainly in the dressing room.

On nights like tonight when the chips are down and you need to dig in, the Brazilian’s importance is imperative.

His steel, reading of the game, interceptions and all round general calmness in the middle of the park give Liverpool a sense of control.

The Reds missed captain Jordan Henderson’s leadership but Fabinho has now become just as dependable and an undroppable presence.

Mohamed Salah will grab the goals and headlines while Virgil van Dijk rightly receives the plaudits in defence but their midfield marvel must now be one of the first names on every team-sheet.

Eyebrows will have certainly been raised when he was withdrawn from the fray on the hour mark – besides Van Dijk – he was Liverpool’s best player.

He has been their MVP since the turn of the year…

Subs win Liverpool the game

Klopp’s changes swung the tie in Liverpool’s favour.

They were under the cosh for the opening 15 minutes of the second half before a triple change – that saw Henderson, Naby Keita and Diaz enter the fray – turned things around.

Roberto Firmino’s contribution after coming on at half-time was also key as he glanced home a priceless opener.

Liverpool regained control for the final 30 minutes and in the end their quality and killer instinct was telling as Salah added a second.

It was a proper captains performance from Henderson too, who geed Liverpool up and ensured they remained focused to execute the task at hand.

Klopp’s players must take credit but this was a win born from their manager’s judgement and innovation.

Luis Diaz is special

It took Luis Diaz just a matter of minutes after coming on to spark this game into life in an attacking sense for Liverpool.

His sharpness to the ball and ability to dribble inside or out was the spark the Reds needed after looking blunt in the final third in the first-half.

Sadio Mane didn’t like coming off on the hour mark but there wasn’t much he could say in response to Klopp’s decision.

Diaz arguably done more in his first 10 minutes on the field than Mane done all evening.

His connection with Robertson on the left flank appears to be natural and although there is room for a greater understanding, the pair seem to have gelled admirably in such a short space of time.

Liverpool’s full-backs not untouchable

Van Dijk – Liverpool’s captain in the absence of Henderson – was really not impressed by the performance of Trent Alexander-Arnold in the second half.

Liverpool were slow out of the blocks after the interval with Trent seemingly asleep.

Ivan Perisic was not giving him a moment’s peace, bombing up and down the left and whipping balls into the box.

Van Dijk was rightly furious with the lack of effort from his full-back, screaming at him to wake up.

Trent did not comply – for the time being at least – as Perisic continued to roam free.

Both of Liverpool’s full-backs were not at the races at the San Siro and Simone Inzaghi’s side were desperate to try and punish that via their marauding wing-backs.

Klopp’s enormous faith in Elliott

As an 18-year-old Liverpool supporter, it must have been an amazing feeling to be handed your Champions League debut in a game of this magnitude.

Inter Milan away, at the San Siro – one of the game’s most iconic stadiums.

Yet while it would be wrong to be overly critical of the youngster, this was not his game.

It was scrappy and physical at times, desperately lacking quality as Inter tried to overrun Liverpool in midfield.

Klopp’s decision to start him, over the likes of Henderson, James Milner, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and even Takumi Minamino – really does show how highly regarded the teenager is by his manage.



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