Roberto Firmino came off the bench to snatch a late 3-2 victory for Liverpool against Paris Saint Germain at Anfield on Tuesday night.
The Brazilian, who was a doubt prior to the game, was introduced with just over a quarter of an hour remaining to fire home in the closing minutes. The Reds had roared into the lead in the first half as a Daniel Sturridge header and a James Milner penalty put them in a comfortable position. However, it was not to last as Thomas Meunier struck before Kylian Mbappe equalised late on. The game was not over though as Firmino yet again stole the headlines.
Liverpool start the better
As has become expected of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side, they made a fast start to proceedings and could have seized the lead within six minutes. Milner’s low cross found its way to Virgil van Dijk with the defender hitting a shot into the floor that Alphonse Areola had to tip over the bar.
The French stopper then had to be at his best to tip Milner’s fierce effort around the post.
Sturridge, Milner put Reds in control
The hosts did not have to wait much longer for their opening goal and it came from Liverpool’s deputising forward, Sturridge. Andrew Robertson was afforded too much time to whip in a cross and find the forward, who gleefully headed the ball beyond Areola.
The Parisians could well have equalised with ten minutes remaining in the first-half. Neymar picked out Mbappe from a corner but the winger fired high over the bar from the centre of the box.
That miss would cost Tuchel’s troops as Liverpool were given the chance to extend the lead from the penalty spot. Georginio Wijnaldum was tripped by Juan Bernat with the referee pointing to the spot. Milner stepped up and fired the ball into the bottom corner.
Meunier gets PSG back into the game
PSG were given a foothold only seconds later as Meunier reacted excellently to a deflection off of Andrew Robertson to fire the ball into the bottom corner to halve the deficit.
The Reds looked as though they had stretched their advantage even further as Salah tapped home from Sturridge’s opportunity. However, the referee adjudged the England striker to have challenged Areola too strongly and the goal was ruled out.
Chances predictably continued to flow and Sturridge wasted a glorious chance as he put a free header straight at Alisson. Mane could also have finished the Parisians off in the closing stages as he combined with Salah and fortunately got past Meunier. He then showed a dazzling bit of skill to get around Kimpembe but he could only fire marginally wide from a tight angle.
Mbappe equalises but Firmino has the final say
That miss was to cost Liverpool as PSG equalised only seconds later. Following slack play from the hosts, Neymar picked up the ball and tore towards the penalty area. van Dijk came across to clear but only sent the ball into the path of Mbappe and he slotted the ball underneath Alisson from only a matter of yards out.
The ball broke yet again for the hosts as substitute Julian Draxler dribbled through but a great block from van Dijk kept the scores level. Trent Alexander-Arnold also had a deflected free-kick kiss the post as both sides pressed for a winning goal.
That did arrive with only minutes remaining and it was Firmino who got it after being introduced from the bench. Mbappe lost the ball on the counter-attack with Gomez finding van Dijk. The Dutch defender picked out Firmino on the right wing and he sent dummies to Marquinhos and Adrien Rabiot before firing a cracking low effort into the far corner to finally confirm Liverpool’s victory.
Yet again, Liverpool were really made to work for victory despite earning an excellent advantage. Despite that, the Red’s attack again came to the fore to make sure of an excellent evening. Despite that, Klopp’s men could have possibly felt hard done by as PSG equalised as they otherwise marshalled the likes of Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani almost to perfection.
Overall though, it did not cost them and they open their campaign in the best possible way. They next face Napoli, whilst PSG face Red Star Belgrade on matchday two.
Liverpool: Alisson (7); Robertson (8), Gomez (6), van Dijk (7), Alexander-Arnold (6); Wijnaldum (7), Henderson (6), Milner (7); Salah (7) (Shaqiri (N/A), 85′), Sturridge (7) (Firmino (7), 72′), Mane (8) (Fabinho (N/A), 90+3′).
Paris Saint Germain: Areola (7); Bernat (5), Kimpembe (6), Thiago Silva (6), Meunier (7); Rabiot (6), Marquinhos (6), di Maria (6) (Choupo-Moting (N/A), 80′); Mbappe (7), Cavani (6) (Draxler (N/A), 80′), Neymar (6).
Goals: Sturridge (30′), Milner PEN (36′), Meunier (40), Mbappe (83′), Firmino (90+2′)
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir
Yellow Cards: van Dijk (27′), Meunier (45+1′)
Red Cards: N/A
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