Liverpool 2-1 Genk: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain nets winner as Reds edge to victory
Liverpool go top of Group E after Napoli are held by Red Bull Salzburg
Last Updated: 06/11/19 7:39am
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored in a second successive Champions League game as Liverpool beat Genk 2-1 in Group E, but they were made to work for their victory.
The Liverpool midfielder had scored twice in a 4-1 win against the Belgian side two weeks ago and followed it up with another superb goal to ultimately seal a vital three points for the Champions League holders.
But it was far from a walk in Stanley Park, with a thunderous Mbwana Samatta header (40) levelling things up in the first half after an instinctive finish from Georginio Wijnaldum for Liverpool's 14th-minute opener. Genk could well have left Anfield with a point too, but Liverpool had Alisson to thank for some wonderful late saves.
Group E table
The result sees Liverpool go top of Group E with nine points, one ahead of Napoli, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Red Bull Salzburg, and is the perfect preparation ahead of their huge Premier League clash with Manchester City on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. Genk remain rooted to the foot of the table with one point.
How Liverpool fought to victory
Ahead of the game, Liverpool were expected to comfortably win the Anfield encounter and they enjoyed a great start when Wijnaldum scored inside 14 minutes. James Milner's left wing cross pinged off the leg of Carlos Cuesta and Genk captain Sebastian Dewaest was unable to keep the ball under control. Wijnaldum then nipped in to lift the loose ball over the oncoming Gaten Coucke with an instinctive finish.
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (8), Gomez (6), Van Dijk (7), Milner (7), Fabinho (7), Wijnaldum (7), Keita (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (7), Salah (7), Origi (6).
Subs used: Mane (5), Robertson (5), Firmino (n/a).
Genk: Coucke (6), Cuesta (7), Dewaest (7), Lucumi (6), Maehle (6), Heynen (7), Berge (6), Hrosovsky (5), De Norre (5), Ito (6), Samatta (6).
Subs used: Ndongola (7), Bongonda (n/a), Onuachu (n/a).
Man of the match: Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Liverpool were guilty of some poor finishing as the game wore on, with their chance in the 36th minute a prime example. Milner squared the ball to Mohamed Salah across the top of the area, with the Egyptian taking a touch to send the ball into space before chasing after it. Dewaest went with him but could not prevent the cross, which flashed across the face of goal - with Salah possibly aiming for the far corner - and Divok Origi unable to poke it home at the far post.
Up until the 40th minute, Genk had not had a shot on target but took advantage of some poor Liverpool defending to equalise. Bryan Heynen delivered the corner, which lifted over the head of Oxlade-Chamberlain at the near post before Samatta powered a header home to see the visitors level at the break.
Liverpool made six changes, with starts for Joe Gomez, James Milner, Fabinho, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi. Jordan Henderson missed out due to illness with Dejan Lovren, Andy Robertson, Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane also dropping out.
But just eight minutes into the second half and Liverpool went in front again. It was another sensational strike from Oxlade-Chamberlain after his two eye-catching goals in Belgium a few weeks ago. A loose Genk clearance was picked up by Salah just inside the area, and used his strength to keep Cuesta at bay before tapping the ball into the path of his team-mate. Oxlade-Chamberlain took one touch before hitting home on the turn and sending a powerful shot past Coucke.
Liverpool could have made it three not long after, but Salah once again was a victim of bad finishing. Trent Alexander-Arnold floated a ball in his direction, pinging through the legs of Dewaest, and allowing Salah to get into space for his shot. However, it was quite tame, and it went straight into the hands of the Genk goalkeeper.
Much like the end of the first half, Genk finished the game strongly and Alisson did well to keep them from scoring a second. The first chance saw Casper de Norre lofted a lovely ball into the area for Heynen, but the Liverpool goalkeeper made a leaping save to keep out his shot. He denied the Genk midfielder once again a few minutes later, before Dieumerci Ndongala put the rebounded save well over the crossbar.
Liverpool now top the group and victory over Napoli at Anfield in two weeks' time will guarantee their progression to the last 16 as group winners with a game still to play. Given their fixture congestion in the coming months, that will be quite the useful bonus for Jurgen Klopp's side.
Man of the match - Trent Alexander-Arnold
It's hard to look past Alexander-Arnold for the star of the show. With Liverpool having 78 per cent of the possession, he was allowed to roam freely and he pinged ball after ball forward for his team-mates with some truly astonishing talent.
The stats are pretty good too. He made a total of 128 passes with 84.4 per cent accuracy and made a sensational 12 crosses - over double of the next highest in the Liverpool team, which was Milner (5) - and took 161 touches.
But he also did his work at the back. He made three tackles - the joint highest with Naby Keita - and made three interceptions with some vital touches made inside the area against Samatta. He was extremely impressive on a night when Liverpool were not at their best.
Jurgen Klopp: "The most important thing is that we won and nobody is injured. The result is because we didn't finish our situations off like we should and could have done. That keeps the game pretty exciting and left Genk pretty much alive.
"We scored again, a really nice goal, but the longer the game goes the more the momentum goes to the other team, if you don't finish your situations off.
"'Job done' is the headline from the game, pretty much. But the group is not decided. We knew from the beginning it's a tough group. Yes, now we are first in the table but we only really want to be first after the last matchday. We have to play two tough games, two important ones. In each of them we can decide it with a win but that sounds easier than it is because both games will be really tricky."
Analysis: Did Genk copy Aston Villa's tactics?
Sky Sports' Phil Thompson:
"Maybe Genk had watched how Aston Villa attacked Liverpool at set pieces. It's a very high line with a lot of green grass in between the backline and the goalkeeper. They have to rectify that, but if you counted the chances, there weren't that many for Genk.
"Liverpool now have an extra day's rest compared to Manchester City before Sunday's game. Liverpool will be quite happy with that extra 24 hours."
- Liverpool remain unbeaten in their last 24 home matches in European competition (W18 D6 L0), since a 0-3 defeat against Real Madrid at Anfield, in October 2014.
- Liverpool have conceded in eight consecutive matches in all competitions, last going longer without a clean sheet between September and October 2014, under Brendan Rodgers (run of nine).
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored four goals in his last four games for Liverpool, as many as in his previous 45 appearances for the Reds across all competitions.
It's a huge game for Liverpool at the weekend as they take on Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. Their next Champions League game will also be a big one, hosting second-place Napoli on Wednesday November 27.
Genk will be in Belgian Pro League action on Sunday as they host Gent before welcoming Red Bull Salzburg in their next Champions League outing, also on November 27.