Liverpool got their European campaign off to a winning start with a professional 1-0 victory over Ajax at the Johan Cruyff arena on Wednesday evening.
It has been a very difficult last few days for anyone closely associated with the club in the aftermath of losing defensive lynchpin Virgil Van Dijk for the season due to a incredibly reckless challenge by Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside Derby.
The anger of Jurgen Klopp and Gini Wijnaldum was still clearly evident in the lead-up to this fixture, but as soon as they took to the pitch, the number one focus was claiming the three points.
The winning goal came with a stroke of good fortune with Sadio Mane’s cross deflected by Argentine defender Nicolas Tagliafico into his own net ten minutes from the half time break.
Speaking after the match per the Official site, the manager was honest in his assessment of the footballing quality on display, but thrilled with the end result.
“This situation is pretty much the picture of the game, so it was not the most easy-on-the-eye performance from both teams, I would say. Both teams can play better football.
“But especially in this competition when you play away, a lot of difficulties, pretty much the medical department made the line-up and then you have to win the game – and that's what the boys did. I think that was deserved, even when we had to clear one ball from the line and when they hit the post.
“Of course they had their moments but apart from that, we were pretty dominant on a difficult pitch for both teams. I think everybody knows that Ajax is usually a brilliant football team but tonight it was really tricky, the passing was difficult, so you could see that. But we won the game and I'm completely fine."
As well as the loss of Van Dijk, the Reds were dealt a further blow with Joel Matip ruled out meaning that the manager had to turn to Fabinho who once again filled in ably in the heart of the defence.
The manager was delighted with performance of the versatile Brazilian who produced a brilliant goal line clearance to deny former Southampton star Dusan Tadic.
“Look, in our situation it helps. Of course, was there pressure on the situation? Yes, it’s clear for the two in the back there, 100 per cent. First game together. Fabinho can play the position, he likes playing it actually.
“If I would have asked him to play right-back I don’t think he would enjoy it as much as he’s enjoying the centre-half position. In our situation in the moment we have to keep those boys fit and then they can of course help us a lot. I’m not surprised he [Fabinho] plays well in the position otherwise we would have thought about a different solution, even when that would have been properly tricky.
“I’m really pleased for tonight, pleased for him, yes it gave him confidence, for sure helped us. These situations [goalline clearances], Millie had last season one against Bournemouth, which was a massive one. That tonight was a massive one. And so he had not only because of this a big hand in this victory tonight.”
Klopp had no reservations in taking off the front three just before the hour mark and felt that their replacements in Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri all had a impact.
“All three who came on are, first, in a really good shape, fresh in a tricky, difficult game on a difficult pitch.
“That helps a lot and you saw they helped a lot. Shaq won deflections, which is pretty special.Taki in both directions, incredible between the lines. And Diogo is a machine so he can punish opponents in one-on-one situations. We had these moments, we didn’t finish them off, unfortunately.”
“But it’s completely fine, it was important for them. Now we started the group, now we have to concentrate on the league again and then Midtjylland is waiting after that.”