The whip from what Jurgen Klopp undersold as his “pretty impressive right foot” bent the match to the home side’s blueprint at Anfield; the assists for Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane making four straight wins in the Champions League, comfortably catapulting them into the knockout stage as group winners.
Alexander-Arnold’s creative work was glorious but there was another player who could have – should have – seen his stellar deliveries leave Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak in greater despair.
Kostas Tsimikas made his European bow for Liverpool a year ago this month, crowbarred into a makeshift defence featuring Rhys Williams and Neco Williams in a much-changed side that suffered a 2-0 loss to Atalanta on Merseyside.
He ran out from the off against Midtjylland too, with Caoimhin Kelleher and Leighton Clarkson for company as injuries continued to ravage the XIs Klopp could field.
Tsimikas’ third appearance in the Champions League, 12 months after his first, was his only one as part of Liverpool’s strongest line-up. And as Alexander-Arnold magnetised the attention against Diego Simeone’s men, the Greek international was quietly going about his brilliant work on the opposite flank.
Tsimikas, replacing Andy Robertson, who has not been his supreme self of late and needed a rest, slotted into the 11 like it is home every game day.
His ease in not just belonging but playing mightily well is quite something considering it was just his second start in all competitions since September, the other coming in the League Cup.
Tsimikas matched Alexander-Arnold for the most key passes (with less than half the possession) against Atleti and Diogo Jota should have really stuck a header from six yards out to give him a merited assist.
No one was there to attack the left-back’s cross with 90 on the clock; a menacing ball across goal begging to end with a celebration.
“With Kostas, there were at least two crosses which we could’ve, should’ve finished off,” Klopp agreed.
The 25-year-old was the delivery man with no rival for how many crosses he supplied – and of the good variety too.
Like Alexander-Arnold, Tsimikas also made the most recoveries. It was a strong, assured display that has become habitual after a difficult adjustment period at Anfield.
His six starts have helped produce as many wins and clean sheets. It’s a welcome luxury for Klopp to have him in reserve when plenty of teams domestically and on the continent would make Tsimikas a fixture on the left flank.
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