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Adam Lallana started against Porto but is he ready for a bigger role?
Last Updated: 07/03/18 10:27am
Adam Lallana played his first full 90 minutes of the season for Liverpool as their goalless draw with Porto at Anfield saw them progress to the Champions League quarter-finals with a 5-0 aggregate win. We assess his performance...
Lallana was an important figure for Liverpool last season but it has been a different story this time around with the England international having only started one Premier League all season. A serious thigh injury in the summer meant that he did not feature at all until November and there have been setbacks since too. It has been a slow journey back.
Liverpool ease into last eight
Liverpool progressed into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a goalless second-leg draw against Porto securing a 5-0 aggregate win.
Jurgen Klopp was keen to talk up one of his favourites beforehand. "Adam is important for us," he explained. "Yes, there is competition but for Adam that's usually not a problem for him. He needed only time. So now we have to build with him. He is coming closer and closer … We still need him, we will use him still … The time will come for him 100 per cent."
So how did Lallana do on his return to the starting line-up for the first time in two months? He looked fit enough but perhaps it was a difficult night on which to impress given the low-key nature of the affair. With Liverpool five goals up from the first leg, the team performance lacked a bit of urgency and try as he might Lallana could not change that.
Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were present and correct but Mohamed Salah takes some replacing. Lallana, initially operating on the left before switching briefly with Mane in the second half, did try to link up with his fellow forwards. There was a lofted pass to Firmino that just eluded him and he did well in the build-up as Mane struck the post after 32 minutes.
Lallana was busy. He covered the ground. Only Joe Gomez won possession of the ball more often for Liverpool. But he was not able to create too much either. He did not summon a shot on goal from his 61 touches of the ball, the last of which saw him fail to control Danny Ings' sharp pass in towards his feet when well placed inside the area.
27 – Attempts to loft a pass towards Firmino but it is just over the striker’s head
32 – POST! Does well to retain possession and Milner finds Mane who crashes a shot against the post.
42 – Applause from the fans as he brings the ball down neatly but then loses it in the next phase of play.
47 – Driving run to latch onto Moreno’s pass and pulls the ball back for Milner who shoots wide.
79 – Typically clever flick puts Moreno away but the left-back cannot beat his man.
It is the first time that Lallana has completed 90 minutes for Liverpool's senior side since scoring in the 3-0 win over Middlesbrough on the final day of last season. He is ready but opportunities are at a premium given the form of the players ahead of him. "He is cool," said Klopp of the situation. "He sees the quality of the team is good."
The Liverpool boss insists that Lallana will be needed but with the team out of the FA Cup, the fixture list is not too congested. Indeed, the Reds have a full fortnight free following Saturday's showdown with Manchester United at Old Trafford. As a result, there will not be too many more chances to get Lallana up to speed without throwing him in at the deep end.
The Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park falls on the weekend between the two legs of the Champions League quarter-final. That is a game for Lallana to target and he will be anxious to impress. "He is always one of the guys who push the level in training on to the next level because he is always so intense in all the things he does," said Klopp.
Lallana will need that intensity in the coming months. With a World Cup to look forward to, the 29-year-old will want to show what he is capable of. But on this evidence, he will have to be content with a back-up role to Liverpool's front three unless something changes.
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