Liverpool triumphas 2-1 winners in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim, in what proved to be a tough night in Germany. Trent Alexander Arnold impressed once again, stealing the headlines with a brilliant free-kick.
Within the opening minutes, the German side looked sharp in their passing and asserted themselves as the dominant team. Meanwhile, the Reds looked shaky in defence, and Dejan Lovren’s poorly timed tackle on Serge Gnabdy lead to the referee pointing to the spot after just 10 minutes.
The error wasn’t a costly one in the end though, thanks to a dreadful spot-kick from Andrej Kramaric – firing weakly down the middle for Simon Mignolet to beat away easily.
As so often happens, the big moment saw a shift in momentum – and it was Liverpool who almost struck back with a goal, as Mo Salah failed to capitalise on a terrible mistake by Kevin Vogt. The Egyptian ran through on goal unchallenged but only watched his shot go wide of the mark, to the relief of the Hoffenheim captain.
The Reds went on to take the lead thanks to an outstanding free kick from Alexander-Arnold, whipping the ball inside the post from 25 yards out to cap off an excellent week for the youngster, who made his Premier League debut on Saturday.
With a critical away goal in the bag, the Reds grew into the game and took their one goal advantage into half time.
Liverpool almost doubled their lead instantly after the break, only for Oliver Baumann to deny Roberto Firmino – before former Arsenal player Gnabry had the ball in the back of the net up the other end; his celebrations cut short by the sight of the assitant referee’s raised flag.
The Reds got a second goal out of nowhere when James Milner’s cross deflected off of Haavard Nordveit, curling into the top corner. The half-time sub had a superb impact on the game, and with just 15 minutes to go, the goal was deserved given the away side’s creativity going forward.
The German club found themselves given a lifeline at the death though, as substitute Mark Uth brought down a lobbed ball over the defence and finished with aplomb – a driven strike left Mignolet stunned, and at least provided Hoffenheim with a way back into the tie.
The Reds looked rattled by the late strike, and defended with their backs to the wall until the very end of the four minutes of injury time – with Benjamin Hübner heading just over the bar moments before the end.