The game flowing one way, then turning on its head, it was both unpredictable and dramatic as Liverpool looked as if they would blow AC Milan away… only to leave their backdoor open
Nothing should ever surprise us when these two heavyweights collide in the Champions League.
But the rollercoaster at Anfield still produced a thrilling and sensational spectacle which brought memories of Istanbul and the 2005 final flooding back.
The game flowing one way, then turning on its head, it was both unpredictable and dramatic as Liverpool looked as if they would blow Milan away… only for their slack defending to keep everyone on the edge of their seats until the end.
Finally, it was settled by Jordan Henderson’s screamer in the 69th minute winner as the roof came off the famous old stadium with a full capacity for a European game for the first time in 18 months.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp went over to the Kop after the final whistle and his fist pump celebration in front of the fans left the place rocking again.
It was a thriller, a terrific, unforgettable European contest as this week’s results have shown Group matches are not always dull. Not when there is history and passion.
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Liverpool will also know they could not afford to drop points as Klopp warned this was the toughest Group he has faced during his reign an Anfield with Porto and Atletico Madrid still to come.
Liverpool, driven on by Mo Salah, showed such breathtaking brilliance going forward that Milan looked as if they were in serious danger of being blown away at times.
But Milan refused to give up, the seven-time European champions kept coming back, had the temerity to go ahead in a remarkable 110 second turnaround just before half time.
Liverpool looked vulnerable as Virgil van Dijk was rested and looked on from the substitutes’ bench. Liverpool are not the same team without him and yet ultimately they deserved their victory even if they did it the hard way with Salah also missing a penalty.
Milan are a far cry from their glory days but, make no mistake, they are building something, they more than played their part even if ultimately they succumbed to defeat.
Liverpool made a lightning start and Trent Alexander-Arnold forced the opening goal after just nine minutes and it looked to be one way traffic.
Alexander-Arnold burst forward from the right, his shot hit Fikayo Tomori, bounced up and flew into the net. It was a nightmare return to England for ex-Chelsea defender Tomori who has been a revelation since moving to Milan.
Milan were wobbling. Salah should have made it 2-0 when Andy Robertson’s shot hit Ismaël Bennacer’s arm. Polish referee Szymon Marciniak gave a penalty but Salah saw his shot blocked by Milan keeper Mike Maignan.
But Milan turned it round before half time. As good as Alexander-Arnold is going forward, he does leave space at the back and Milan seized their opportunity as they levelled after 42 minutes.
Alexis Saelemaekers led the attack, Rafael Leão found acres of space on Liverpool’s right channel and Ante Rebic calmly stroked a shot past Alisson.
OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Then it got worse for Liverpool. Leão and Rebic combined again, Liverpool’s defence was exposed once more and Milan went ahead. Theo Hernandez saw his effort blocked on the line by Robertson and Brahim Diaz scored from point blank range.
Out came Liverpool for the second half. It was wave after wave of attacks. Liverpool got themselves level four minutes after the restart when Origi played in Salah who just stayed onside before prodding the ball past Maignan.
The noise was deafening and Liverpool could sense victory.
A corner was half cleared by Ismael Bennacer, the ball fell to Henderson who smashed home the winner from the edge of the box to seal a vital win.