LONDON, United Kingdom, Sep 19 – Liverpool beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 in a dramatic Champions League Group C opener at Anfield on Tuesday.
Here are three things we learned from the clash of two of the leading contenders for the Champions League title:
Reds relish Euro return
Back in Champions League action for the first time since last season’s agonising final defeat against Real Madrid, Liverpool erased the bitter taste of that loss with a thrilling success against the star-studded French champions.
Eight of Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up began the 3-1 defeat in Kiev four months ago and that group were determined to make amends.
The Reds won four and drew two of their home games in this competition in 2017-18, including memorable victories over Manchester City and Roma in the knock-out stages.
Recalling those epic demolitions, Klopp’s side tore into PSG with two goals in six minutes late in the first half through Daniel Sturridge and a James Milner penalty.
Thomas Meunier’s 40th-minute reply made it a tense second half and when Kylian Mbappe’s equalised with seven minutes left, Liverpool could have buckled.
But Roberto Firmino came off the bench to snatch the points with a dramatic stoppage-time winner just days after suffering a nasty eye injury against Tottenham.
No wonder the jubilant Brazilian celebrated by jokingly covering his wounded eye as he ran to the crowd.
Sturridge takes his chance
Sturridge seized a rare moment in the European spotlight as the Liverpool striker marked his first Champions League start for six years with a crucial goal.
Sturridge was handed his first start for Liverpool this season because of the injury Firmino sustained in a challenge with Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen.
England international Sturridge made up for lost time, breaking the deadlock in the 30th minute when he met Andrew Robertson’s pin-point cross with a clinical close-range header.
It was Sturridge’s first goal since the opening day of the season against West Ham and the 29-year-old’s first in the Champions League since he netted against Maribor in November 2017.
Sturridge’s crucial contribution served as a welcome reminder of his talent at a time when his injury-plagued career is at a cross-roads following his dismal loan spell at West Brom in the second half of last season.
Tuchel suffers more Anfield angst
“This team is built for winning the Champions League. They have unbelievable quality,” Liverpool manager boss Klopp had said when asked about the threat posed by the French champions.
But, although PSG have won five Ligue 1 titles in the past six seasons, they have yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals in the Champions League since being bought by their Qatari owners.
Thomas Tuchel’s side once again flattered to deceive on the big occasion as they delivered a lacklustre display at Anfield.
Their gritty fightback would have papered over the cracks, but, not the for the first time, PSG cracked under pressure in the final moments — a familiar feeling for Tuchel after he lost an enthralling Europa League quarter-final at Liverpool two years ago.