Brilliant chaos reigns at Anfield as Liverpool held by Sevilla in disappointing Champions League opener

Liverpool 2 Sevilla 2: The home side's sparkling attack was offset by a questionable backline which, together, saw Jurgen Klopp's men fail to get the job done

Simon Hughes
Wednesday 13 September 2017 21:49 BST
Liverpool spurned a number of chances but were also lucky not to lose
Liverpool spurned a number of chances but were also lucky not to lose (Getty)

A brilliant chaos reigns at Anfield. The doubts about Liverpool are understandable. Their defence is so brittle, it surely renders them incapable at this moment of winning a Premier League title. It is their alacrity in attack, though, that makes you consider the possibilities in Europe – that maybe, they could go far this season. Foreign opponents who underestimate the threat will surely visit Merseyside and travel home disappointed.

Though at times the sight of bulky defenders trying to catch Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino was like watching Olympic weight lifters chase after 200m sprinting champions, Seville were ultimately a little bit too streetwise to be one of those opponents – even without their manager, Eduardo Berizzo, who was sent to the stands at the start of the second half for throwing the ball away.

Sevilla, indeed, offered Liverpool twin opportunities, not only to immediately flush what happened in Manchester on Saturday out of their system, but also a bad memory from 15 months back when a second half collapse led to the Andalusian side winning the Europa League final.

Sevilla had since threatened to win La Liga last season before finishing fourth. They have started this one campaign unbeaten and won convincingly against Eibar at the weekend.

Having been overpowered and overran by Sevilla in Basel not so long ago, indeed, Liverpool should have known roughly what to expect here, one whose midfield is considered amongst the most aggressive in Spain.

And yet, Emre Can did not deem it necessary to challenge Joaquín Correa with even half of the required force when the ball was there to be won 25 yards from Liverpool’s goal after four minutes of play.

Klopp consoles Wijnaldum after Liverpool's 2-2 draw (Getty)

Liverpool did not recover possession and twenty seconds later, Sevilla had scored largely because of another mistake, this time by Dejan Lovren who swiped wildly at a Sergio Escudero’s low cross. From there, Wissam Ben Yedder could not really miss.

Liverpool’s response was positive. If a goal was to come, it seemed inevitable the genesis would be from the left because it quickly became very clear that the only way Gabriel Mercado could stop Mané was through illegal means.

The Argentine had a problem defending against speed and this was displayed again in the build-up to Firmino’s equaliser, tapped in after Alberto Moreno’s pace had taken him away following an excellent Jordan Henderson pass.

 Firmino drew Liverpool level after Ben Yedder's opener 

Liverpool were at their most menacing. Examples of defensive vulnerabilities always felt just around the corner but in attack, their ability to hustle and the velocity with which they operate when the ball is theirs was proving too much for the visitors.

By half time, a lead had been established but that lead should have been greater. After Salah’s long-range shot ballooned off Simon Kjær to deceive goalkeeper Sergio Rico and make it 2-1, Firmino missed a penalty that could have been awarded twice in a matter of seconds, firstly for a handball by Nicolás Pareja and then for his subsequent tug on Mané.

Liverpool’s players were given a standing ovation for their efforts at half time. Perhaps it was reasonable that their approach in the early stages of the second half should not blaze in the way it ended in the first, when you consider how they lost to Sevilla last time, conceding an equaliser in minute 46 having impressed prior to that.

Joaquin Correa scored Sevilla's equaliser to force a draw (Getty)

It would be inaccurate to say Sevilla’s equaliser on this occasion had been coming but they had nevertheless probed patiently beforehand. It arrived because of another error from Can, who did not react quickly enough to a quick throw-in and this eventually allowed Correa the space to fire past Loris Karius.

Liverpool would finish with 10 men after Joe Gomez was sent off for a second booking and he will now miss the trip to Russia in two weeks time when they face Spartak Moscow.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Karius; Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Can (Coutinho 75), Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah (Oxlade-Chamberlain (87), Firmino, Mané (Sturridge 85). Subs: Mignolet, Milner, Klavan, Robertson.

Sevilla (4-3-3): Rico; Mercado, Pareja, Kjær, Escudero; Nzonzi, Banega, Pizzaro (Sarabia 44); Navas (Corchia 83), Ben Yedder (Muriel 69), Correa. Subs: Soria, Carrico, Krohn-Dehli, Vazquez.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in