beat Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 away with a fortunate own goal in their UEFA Champions League group stage opener on Wednesday.
They rode their luck at times but still showed their title credentials.
Ajax full-back Nicolas Tagliafico turned the ball into his own net in the 35th minute to ensure a winning start in Group D for the English champions.
Liverpool looked the stronger of the two teams in spite of Ajax creating several good chances at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Davy Klaassen struck the post with a powerful shot and Quincy Promes had a point-blank effort stopped by the legs of Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian.
This went on as the Dutch club created a handful of excellent opportunities.
Yet Liverpool, who won their sixth UEFA Champions League title in 2019, still proved value for their victory.
They dominated possession and counter-attacked at pace while keeping a clean sheet in spite of missing defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk, who suffered a serious knee injury at the weekend.
Fabinho moved from midfield to central defence to replace Van Dijk and had an outstanding game, notably hooking a clearance off the line to deny Dusan Tadic just before half-time.
It was one of several chances for Ajax in the first half.
Lisandro Martinez had a header saved by Adrian and Ryan Gravenberch shot narrowly wide, much to the annoyance of Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp.
Klopp spent the early part of the game berating and shouting instructions to his players.
But his agitation was quelled when Sadio Mane turned the Ajax defence with a swift body movement to set up the goal.
He miskicked his own effort, but it caught Tagliafico as he clumsily tried to clear and instead deflected it into the Ajax net.
“It was a good enough performance to win the game, which at moments was pretty wild.
“It was not one of our sunny shiny world class football days. It was not perfect but the boys fought like crazy,” said a more satisfied Liverpool manager afterwards.
Klopp took off Mane and his strike partners Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah with 30 minutes still left.
But replacements Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino kept up the pressure on the home team.
Ajax should have equalised, however, four minutes into stoppage time when Adrian did not properly deal with a cross into the area.
But substitute Jurgen Ekkelenkamp missed the target.
Sanusi Scores As Porto Beat Sorry Marseille 2-0
Nigeria’s left-back, Zaidu Sanusi, got his name on the score sheet as Porto defeat beat Olympique de Marseille 2-0 away on Wednesday to move to the brink of qualifying for the Champions League knockout phase.
Sanusi’s goal and Sergio Oliveira’s penalty put Porto on nine points from four games in Group C while Marseille, who became the first team to lose 13 straight games in the competition since it was launched in 1992-93, were eliminated with zero points.
Manchester City advanced with a perfect four wins from four group games with a 1-0 victory at Olympiakos, who with three points have a remote chance of leap-frogging Porto into second place.
Both teams finished with 10 men after Porto’s Marko Grujic and Marseille’s Leonardo Balerdi were sent off, in the 67th and 70th minutes, respectively.
After a minute’s silence in memory of Argentina great Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday, Porto soaked up the pressure in the opening stages before taking control of the game.
They were rewarded six minutes from the break when Sanusi netted from the rebound after his first attempt had been saved by goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Marseille were thrown a lifeline when Grujic was sent off for a second bookable offence, but they quickly wasted their chance.
Balerdi soon received a second yellow card for bringing down Marega, and Oliveira doubled Porto’s advantage by converting the resulting penalty.
More Than 30 Africans Involved In UEFA Champions League Matchday 4
More than 30 Africans played some part in matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League, with Nigeria’s Zaidu Sanusi getting on the scoresheet.
Sanusi scored FC Porto’s first goal in their 2-0 win against Olympique Marseille.
Liverpool duo, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane were denied a celebration of their nomination for the FIFA TheBest Player of the Year award. Both players featured as Liverpool suffered their heaviest defeat at home under Jurgen Klopp, losing 2-0 to Atalanta in Anfield.
Austrian giants, Red Bull Salzburg listed at least four African internationals in their 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich. If Karim Adeyemi, an 18-year old German youth international of Nigerian descent is included, the number of Africans featured in the game will soar to five.
Zambia’s Enoch Mwepu, 22 started the game, while Ghanaian international, Majeed Ashimeru came on in the second half. Malian youngsters, Sekou Koita and Mohammed Kamara also featured in the game with Cameroonian Jerome Onguene not getting a feel of the action.
In Ajax’s clash against FC Midjtylland, Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana featured, with Burkina Faso’s Lassina Traore and Morocoo’s Noussair Mazaraoui playing a part in the game.
Nigeria’s Frank Onyeka and Guinean Kaba Sory were listed for the reigning Danish champions as they fell to a 1-0 defeat to the Dutch giants.
In Manchester City’s slim 1-0 win against Olympiacos, the Greeks listed Senegalese Ousseynou Ba and Papy Abou Cisse. Guinean international, Mady Camara also featured in the loss to the Citizens.
Abraham Frimpong, Ghanaian was in the Ferencvaros team that lost 2-1 to Juventus. Also listed for the game were South Sudan’s Tokmac Nguen and Ivory Coast’s Franck Boli.
Borussia Dortmund ran out 3-0 victors against Belgians Club Brugge. Brugge listed at least five Africans for the game comprising; Ivorians Odilon Kossounou and Simon Deli, Senegal’s Krepin Diatta and Youssouph Badji, and Nigerian David Okereke.
In Lazio’s 3-1 win against Zenit St.Petersburg, Ivorian Dave Akpa-Akpro came on in the second half to have a taste of the encounter.
Mali’s Amadou Haidara was also involved in Red Bull Leipzig’s 1-0 loss to PSG. Senegalese Demba Ba played in Istanbul Basaksehir’s 4-1 loss to Manchester United, while Moroccan international Youssef El-Nesyri was involved in Krasnodar’s loss to Sevilla.
Five Africans were involved as Chelsea earned a late 2-1 win against Stade Rennes. The game had Senegalese goalkeepers at both ends of the pitch, with Amigo Gomis in goal for Rennes while his former teammate and compatriot, Edouard Mendy was in goal for Chelsea.
Mali’s Hamari Traore, Senegal’s Mbaye Niang and Moroccan, Hakim Ziyech completed the African representatives in the game.
African Stars, Etoo, Drogba Pay Tributes To Maradona
Ivorian football legend, Didier Drogba and his Cameroonian counterpart, Samuel Etoo Fils have paid tributes to Diego Maradona.
Maradona, arguably the best footballer ever seen was announced dead on Wednesday, after he suffered a heart attack.
The world has been praising the genius of the ‘Golden Boy’ whose football artistry was mouthwatering to see.
Etoo, in his tweet said the year 2020 has taken too much away from the world, as he hailed the impact of El Pibe.
Drogba, on his part said Maradona made him take up football as his shirt was the first he wore as a kid.
The Argentine football legend was one of the figures in football who sparked excitement and reservations at the same time.
Drogba however had only good words for the legacy set by the former Napoli star.
Other African stars who reacted to Maradona’s death were Ivorian Yaya Toure and former Ghanaian star Michael Essien.
Maradona passed away at the age of 60.
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