Liverpool’s second string see off Milan to make Champions League history

AC Milan 1-2 Liverpool: Divock Origi and Mohamed Salah scored as a much-changed Reds side became the first Premier League team ever to win all six group games

Melissa Reddy
Senior Football Correspondent
Wednesday 08 December 2021 02:27
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In the end, Liverpool laughed in the face of the Group of Death while becoming the only English team to ever post a 100 per cent record at this stage of the Champions League.

Milan were the latest to bow to Jurgen Klopp’s men, in rather meek fashion too, following Atletico Madrid and Porto.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ibrahima Konate were particularly impressive on a night where Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the lion, seemed to be sleeping.

You could have been forgiven for watching the match in the belief that Liverpool were the team playing for a Champions League lifeline, not the ones gracing San Siro armed with a clean sweep of group victories.

An In Need of Minutes XI, complemented with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Alisson dominated and dictated proceedings, while Milan were content with letting the game happen to them which was curious considering their need to win.

Stefano Pioli’s men were passive, ponderous, and seemingly scared of Liverpool’s press. They managed just two total shots in the first half to nine, but one of those acted as the opener against the run of play.

Takumi Minamino failed to clear a near post corner, which forced Alisson to parry out – but only as far as Fikayo Tomori, who happily slammed in the loose ball.

Milan were gifted superiority on the scoreboard, but couldn’t use that as a spark to provide a more substantial threat.

Liverpool accepted the honour of being the better side and were level in seven minutes. Oxlade-Chamberlain displayed the kind of dynamism the hosts were desperate for by evading two challenges and conjuring a dipping shot. The effort was close to Mike Maignan, but the goalkeeper’s intervention only teed up Salah to score his 20th goal of the season.

Any notion that Milan would provide much greater menace after the break was disproved. Liverpool remained chief creators, comfortable and somewhat confused by the lack of defiance, fight and danger they faced.

As Atleti took the lead against Porto to shuffle into second in the group, the Merseysiders sucked whatever slight hope they held through the head of Divock Origi.

Sadio Mane superbly dispossessed Tomori, darted into the box and thundered a shot at Maignan. The goalkeeper’s odd save met Origi’s fine jump and the ball was powerfully steered into the far corner.

Perhaps what best summed up Liverpool’s status of being in a totally different realm to Milan was the sight of Nat Phillips casually dropping the shoulder, controlling the ball and escaping two home players that tried to sandwich him with pressure.

Pioli’s charges attempted a late gust of attacking threat, but they were long blown away.

Liverpool, as as become habit on occasion, made it look easy. They got to throw on the kids at the death – Max Woltman and Conor Bradley – for minutes they’ll never forget as Milan limped out of Europe.

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