It was the perfect cure for Liverpool’s problems.
Three points and a dry net for the start of the campaign in the Champions League were the main things that the fans wished for before the visit of Ajax in the first match of Group B.
The 1-0 victory was far from beautiful. And it came thanks to one of the most comical own goals, the work of Nicolas Taliafico, who scored the ball in his own goal, while there was no opponent around him at all.
But luck just returned to Liverpool after leaving Goodison Park against Everton on Saturday.
This time, in the important moments, fate did not turn its back on Jurgen Klopp, otherwise the end result would have been different and the team would have been psychologically in a completely different position.
Twice Ajax was extremely close to equalizing, first in the famous clearing from Fabinho’s goal, which turned into a play №1 in the match.
Then Klaassen hit the crossbar, not to mention that Adrian, who has been so confused lately, made two important saves.
Maybe Liverpool needed just such a match, instead of a convincing victory with many goals.
The Reds are in a special situation where they needed to regain their defensive confidence and they needed a dry net, achieved with tenacity and perseverance against an offensive team like Ajax.
The whole of Europe was watching closely what the defense would look like without the severely injured leader Virgil van Dyke and whether Liverpool’s game would fall apart, as pessimistic predictions were.
However, she did not have the other big figure to whom Klopp owes the stability in the back positions in the last two years – goalkeeper Alison.
The manager vowed that the club would deal with the situation and shut the mouths of the doubters in the only way they know: with results.
And the first step has been taken.
At the Johan Cruyff Arena, the whole defense showed a lot of class, but logically, the main topic after the match was Fabinho’s game.
The Brazilian, moved from the midfield to take on the role of Van Dyke, was great and did everything that could be required of him in this position.
Hardy in martial arts, in the right places to take the ball clean, a lord on the second floor and a skilled passer with vision and the ability to read the game, he is among the most valuable players Klopp currently has.
And if he continues to play like this, life without Van Dyke will not be as difficult as expected.
“He is a top player and the top players are adapting,” commented the titular captain in yesterday’s game, James Milner.
Fabinho vs Ajax.
— Watch LFC (@Watch_LFC) October 21, 2020
Key to Liverpool’s ambitions this season will be to maintain Fabinho’s form and protect him from injury.
The problem is that when Fabinho is a central defender, his absence in the midfield is felt – just the former Monaco player turns out to be the best option for Klopp in two different positions.
His partner in the center of defense Joe Gomez also deserves good words, as the beginning of the season was definitely not brilliant for him, but against Ajax he improved his performance.
For Gomez and for the whole team, the victory means a lot because of the headaches in the Champions League lately.
Before the victory over Ajax, Liverpool had lost 8 of their last 14 away games in Europe and had scored only one dry net in the last 12 (excluding the 2019 final against Tottenham, played on neutral ground).
Therefore, although the game was not phenomenal, the result is exactly that.
The sight of Sadio Mane with ice on his thigh after his change certainly worried the fans, but Klopp reassured that the Senegalese is fine.
Liverpool can’t afford to lose more than their main units right now, but good news is coming with the upcoming return of Alison, Thiago Alcantara and Joel Matip.
Nabi Keita may be ready to play on Saturday at Anfield against Sheffield United.
But these are topics for the coming days – the important thing for yesterday is that Liverpool took what they needed, and in more than one aspect.
And the fans are undoubtedly one idea calmer.