Liverpool vs Ajax result: Five things we learned as Curtis Jones and Caoimhin Kelleher impress in Champions League win

Youngsters were standout performers at Anfield as the hosts won 1-0

Alex Pattle
Tuesday 01 December 2020 22:12
Ajax's top 10 goals on English soil

Jones has the disposition Klopp desires

Curtis Jones started with real verve, shooting twice early to test Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana moments before hitting the post, and – most importantly – he reacted well at the back post in the second half to volley home a goal with the outside of his boot.

The 19-year-old’s confidence throughout was promising – not that he’s lacked any in his previous outings for the Reds, but he had the bit between his teeth to make a difference here, not shying away from criticising his more senior team-mates when he felt it was deserved..

In a game that Liverpool didn’t need to win, the midfielder saw victory as a necessity. That is the sort of attitude that Jurgen Klopp wants from his players. 

READ MORE: Champions League standings plus fixtures by date and kick-off time

It is an attitude that wins trophies.

Kelleher gets the nod over Adrian

The 22-year-old goalkeeper was given his fifth senior cap for Liverpool, his first in the Champions League as he got the nod ahead of Adrian.

Although Liverpool only needed a draw to go through, it seemed somewhat of a risk to opt for the inexperienced youngster, even if Adrian isn’t fully trusted by Klopp in Alisson’s absence.

Caoimhin Kelleher performed well for the hosts

It is difficult to know whether that says more about the coach’s thoughts on the Spaniard or the Irishman, but it will be interesting to see what decisions Klopp makes in similar situations as an intense season progresses.

Ultimately, Kelleher performed very impressively, saving well to keep out Davy Klaassen in the first half and palming over a swerving Noussair Mazraoui effort later in the period, before denying Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s header from point-blank range in the dying moments. 

The youngster made a statement at Anfield, and Klopp noticed, running over to hug Kelleher at the final whistle.

Onana costs the visitors

While the focus going into the game was on the Liverpool keeper, a fair amount of focus after it will be on the Ajax shotstopper.

Onana horribly misjudged a cross in the second half, initially coming out to collect it before opting against claiming the ball – thus allowing Jones to volley home at the back post.

Andre Onana finds himself stranded as Curtis Jones scores

The Ajax goalkeeper had little to do until that point, but his error of judgement effectively cost his side a point.

He went some way to making amends thereafter by pulling off a number of good saves, most notably to keep out Roberto Firmino, but the damage was already done.

Liverpool’s defensive despair deepens?

Andy Robertson was clearly in discomfort throughout the first half after finding himself on the receiving end of a stern challenge early on.

The left-back’s left leg was strapped up midway through the period, and – although he was able to continue – the Scotland captain at times appeared to be putting weight on the limb a little sheepishly.

If Robertson ends up missing out in Liverpool’s next fixture – at home to Wolves in the Premier League on Sunday – that will mean Klopp is without his entire first-choice defence, given the existing injury struggles of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The latter is expected back soon, but the two centre-backs are set to miss the majority of the season, so the Reds will certainly hope Robertson is available at the weekend – or as soon as possible thereafter.

Ajax a valuable side in the Champions League

Ajax made a number of mistakes on Tuesday night – even if one forgets Onana’s crucial one – but they are very much good value when it comes to entertainment.

They always play with endeavour, and while that leads to the afore-mentioned errors at times, it is admirable.

It was that sort of approach and attitude that led them to the semi-finals in 2019 (though the instinct is always to say “to the final”), and if they had the sturdiness that Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong tended to bring at that time, they would of course be a more balanced outfit right now.

As it is, we’ll have to (gladly) settle for observing their at times dangerous lack of inhibitions in attack. Here’s hoping they book their spot in the next round.

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